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West End plan to proceed as scheduled

‘I think people are quite happy and just want to get on with it’: Stevenson

Dean Malone says there’s no need to extend the consultation period for the new West End plan. “It will be the same people, the same ideas, the same outcomes,” he says. Credit: Natasha Barsotti

The West End plan will go ahead as scheduled, Vancouver City Council decided Sept 26, after considering staff recommendations.

Council voted to extend the consultation period on the other three neighbourhood plans currently being formulated by city planners.

The Marpole, Grandview-Woodlands and Downtown Eastside plans have been extended by six months, 12 months and three months, respectively.

Grandview-Woodlands has also received a budget of about $275,000 for a revamped process and the creation of a “Citizens’ Assembly.”

Brian Jackson, Vancouver’s general manager of planning and development services, told council Sept 25 that he is satisfied that planners reached out to “thousands upon thousands of people” who live in the West End to draft the area’s new community plan.

“They participated in an active way in a variety of consultation methods that we have had over the past year and a half,” Jackson said.

“The West End is going forward without delay, as recommended by city staff,” Councillor Tim Stevenson confirms.

“I think people are quite happy and just want to get on with it,” he says. “Maybe everyone didn’t get everything that they wanted, but people are obviously keen to get on with the plan as recommended, and that’s what’s going to happen.”

Approximately 76 people signed up to speak to council during the two-day public hearing on all four plans. Only two of the speakers addressed the West End, Stevenson says.

Dean Malone, co-chair of the city’s LGBTQ advisory committee, spoke in favour of proceeding with the West End plan as scheduled.

Many West Enders were involved in the planning process through open houses, walkshops and workshops, online surveys and other forms of engagement, Malone told council.

Randy Helten, from the West End Neighbours community group, urged council to extend the plan’s consultation period.

Helten blames a “high level of fatigue and disillusionment in city hall” for the low turnout to address the West End plan at council.

“The West End is treated unfairly compared to other neighbourhoods,” he says.

“We’re not trying to push anything down people’s throats,” Stevenson says.

“The staff have done a fine and thorough job in their consultations,” Stevenson says. “They have bent over backwards with community consultations, speaking one-on-one and having endless meetings with people.”

“I think [staff] have done a fantastic job and the final plan is going to be superb,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to the plan going ahead. I’ve been pushing for this plan a long time, and finally we’ve got it.”

“I’ve been very keen on getting more rental housing in the West End, and I’m keen on keeping the integrity of the gay village intact,” Stevenson adds.

The final draft of the West End plan is scheduled to go before council for approval in November.