Vancouver Pride Society board member Ray Lam has been appointed to the city’s planning commission.
As one of 16 commissioners, Lam will make planning recommendations to council.
“We look at the direction of the city and look at programs for the future,” Lam says.
Ten of the 16 commissioners are appointed from the general public. Other commissioners are drawn from the parks board, school board and city council.
Gay Vision Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson also sits on the commission.
Lam sought a Vision nomination to run for city council in last November’s civic elections but was not selected by the party.
He says it was suggested to him after the nomination race that he look into serving on city advisory committees.
“It’s a good place to learn about the city,” he says.
Serving on the commission won’t conflict with his duties on the Pride board, he adds.
“It doesn’t really conflict with any festival or any of the non-profit groups,” he says.
Lam has experience as Egale’s BC/Yukon regional director, and is also a founding member of Vancouver InterPride.
There has been a push in some quarters recently to have the Davie Village officially designated as the city’s “gay village.”
Lam says that would not fall under the commission’s jurisdiction.
“We don’t designate neighbourhoods,” he says. “We try to stay away from politics and bring a non-partisan view to the commission.”
He says the commission is going to be looking at issues such as transit, rezoning park and building heights.
But, he says, the commission has been examining other commissions in places such as Toronto and San Francisco, which reportedly hold more power. Lam says a meeting will be held Feb 19 to examine that issue.
San Francisco’s planning department deals almost exclusively with land use and zoning but its mission statement says it “is dedicated to public service, the orderly and harmonious use of land and improved quality of life for our diverse community and future generations.”
The City of Vancouver website says the local commission is responsible for reporting on matters relating to planning and development of the city, representing ideas and opinions about the future of the city of Vancouver, and reporting to council in response to any proposal likely to have a significant effect on the future of the city.
Commissioners are expected to remain educated and aware of current issues, and to consider plans and proposals for major developments and changes to land use.
They are also responsible for producing events which bring together key thinkers such as elected officials, city staff, corporate executives, academics, and citizens.