The Year in Review – A Panel Discussion on January 26, 2016
Transcribed highlights edited for clarity. For complete remarks, please refer to the video.

“What were the defining decisions, actions and events in planning and development in 2015 that could prove to be transformative in Vancouver’s evolution?”

Matas-95x105Robert Matas, Chair of the VCPC Chronology Committee

  • Welcome everyone. I’m Robert Matas, chair of the Chronology Committee of the Vancouver City Planning Commission.
  • The Chronology Committee was formed about 18 months ago to identify the transformative moments in Vancouver’s planning and development. The project caught the imagination of a lot of people and has generated a huge amount of excitement and energy. I want to acknowledge the Commissioners on the committee who are with us tonight: Karenn Krangle, Brad Jones, Andy Yan, Other members are Commissioners Anthony Perl and Nola Kate Seymour. Also, Phil Mondor, a former Commissioner volunteering on committee, and our chair, Danielle Bauer, who unfortunately is ill this evening.
  • My job tonight is to introduce Marta Farevaag who will give an overview of the event. Marta is a fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners, chair of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, urban planning Principal at PFS Studio of Landscape Architecture, former chair of the Planning Commission, and instructor for the special SALA chronology course. So here’s Marta.

Farevaag-95x105Marta Farevaag, Former VCPC Chair

  • Welcome to an evening of conversation about the future of the city, and informing our thoughts about the future by reflecting on the past. I am happy to stand in for Danielle. These speaking notes were prepared for her so I’m going to present them that way. Although I’m not currently on the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC), I had the good fortune to sit on it for several terms in the past, and this connection that’s been created with the Planning Commission, the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape and the Urbanarium has been very interesting to a large number of people.
  • I’m here to talk about the launch of the timeline. It’s being launched tonight officially and I hope that you will have the opportunity to see it. We’re delighted by the interest in the panel event and we regret that there are a few empty seats here when we had to turn people away. We are hoping that this event will continue to resonate with people and that we’ll see sellouts in the future as this event is repeated on a yearly basis. Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people.
  • The VCPC has two reasons for this evening. The first is to launch the chronology and I hope you will all take a moment to look at it. This poster gives you the link to the VCPC website, also the Twitter hashtag should you want to be active on social media tonight.
  • The second purpose for this evening is to review the planning and development events of the past year that seem significant enough to include as potentially transformative and become the year’s addition to the chronology. The chronology ended in 2014 with the students’ work, and this is our opportunity to engage with a conversation about events of 2015 that are that are identified as game-changing events – things that happened this year that, when we look forward or backward 25 years from now, we will see as the events that made a big difference and changed the course of of the city when they happened in 2015.
  • So, for the review, we have you in the audience, we have this extraordinary panel, and we have Stephen Quinn from the CBC who will moderate the evening. The link to the chronology is now live on the website. And, when you come to the Urbanarium exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver, there is an area where you can also explore it in the display.
  • We want to ground the discussion of the future in an understanding of the planning legacy of the past. There are many interesting histories and many useful thematic chronologies. The VCPC identified the need for one that was about planning and development history. About two years ago, they had a workshop, brought a lot of thinkers about the city together and talked about what the VCPC might take on as projects and the idea of a chronology came up. Shortly after that there was an opportunity for the Urbanarium to meet with the Vancouver City Planning Commission. Lesley Van Duzer, who was the chair of the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA), was part of that discussion and that started a conversation that brought SALA and the Urbanarium into the same room and the process continued from there.
  • We had a wonderful advisory group shaping the chronology which includes Ken Cameron, Norm Hotson, John Atkin, Michael Kluckner, Bruce Macdonald, and Catherine Sinasac. They worked closely with the Chronology Committee members already introduced to you, and with the students who took the SALA course. We’ve also been supported by several organizations: the Vancouver Urbanarium Society, Vancouver Archives, the Vancouver Public Library and the Vancouver Heritage Commission, and I see people from those organizations in the audience tonight.
    A particular thanks has been singled out for Lesley Van Duzer who is in the audience as well. In her capacity as a member of the board of directors of the Urbanarium Society, and Director of SALA, suggested the idea that a course be given in the winter of last year that would bring students together to do the background research that would be the cornerstone of the chronology for the timeline and the website.
  • The second thanks in Danielle’s notes is to me. I was very fortunate in that I had a connection to the Urbanarium Society. Lesley had made this idea as an offer to the VCPC, and SALA was looking for somebody to step up and teach the course. I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with students and the VCPC and the Urbanarium to drill down and see what were the seminal events of planning and development since the very beginning of Vancouver’s history, even pre-contact.
    We advertised the course late. It was after Christmas but a flurry of students stepped up to take it. We had students from SALA, the School of Community and Regional Planning, the new UBC Master of Urban Design program, and geography. We had students who were brand new to Vancouver and students who had lived here all their lives. They took the opportunity to heart, jumped on the opportunity to learn more about the city, and were very privileged to work with a strong group of advisors. We also reached out to a number of past directors of planning and other planning professionals who came and lectured to the students, and those lectures were shared with our advisory panel.
  • So there was a great deal of very knowledgeable and energetic thinking brought to the chronology. The material is somewhat inconclusive and there still more work to be done, but it was decided that it was a good time to launch the chronology now as a first edition, even though it may not be complete. And given the fact that we’re hoping that every year there’ll be an addition of a new year of events, perhaps it will never be complete.
  • This discussion today is a pilot for the VCPC with the idea of holding it annually to review the events of the previous year for possible addition to the chronology. Two very interesting workshops were held by the VCPC leading up to this event where people discussed the last year and what was important, and what might be these game-changing decisions.
  • So now I will turn things over to Stephen Quinn, our moderator. Stephen is the host of CBC’s daily radio program On the Coast, keeping us current on local issues, a radio journalist and formerly CBC’s provocative civic affairs reporter. Stephen has hosted and guest-hosted many CBC programs. He has been honoured many times with awards from the Radio Television and Digital News Association. So over to Stephen.

Moderator’s Introduction – Stephen Quinn

Links to more highlights from the panel event
Panel event description
Panel event videos
Community perspectives
Audience member video interviews
Audience comments on poster boards – post-its
Draft list of 2015 significant events – as reviewed at panel event
Panel bios