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West End up for new community plan

Council vote on recommendation likely July 28

If city staff recommendations are approved by council next week, three Vancouver neighbourhoods will get updated community plans concurrently.

A July 15 city report lists Grandview-Woodlands, Marpole and the West End as the top three Vancouver communities needing an updated community plan. “We are responding to a council motion from November 2010 asking staff to report back on what it would take to carry out three plans concurrently,” senior planner Matt Shillito says. “We looked at what we could do with existing staff and we realized that we could do two plans at a time. We need funding and additional staff if we are to do three.”

Shillito says an estimated $562,000 of net additional funding is needed to implement all three plans.

“I feel very, very positive [about the recommendations],” Councillor Tim Stevenson says. “It means that the West End will be included right away, and we weren’t on the top of this list.” He says he’s “argued strenuously” for the West End to have a new community plan.

Asked if people should be concerned about a new plan threatening the face of the gay village, Stevenson says not as long as he’s around. “As gay and lesbian people, it’s vital that we always have representation in council.”

“We recognize that Vancouver is a city of diverse and distinct neighbourhoods, so we don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to community plans,” Shillito assures when asked about the importance of respecting community diversity. “We tailor each one to the unique characteristics and attributes of the neighbourhood, while also looking at the role that the neighbourhood can play in helping to address issues that the city as a whole is facing.”

Councillor Ellen Woodsworth is also in favour of the plans but says she wants assurance that community members will have a voice in how they unfold. “I want to ensure that these area plans don’t get overridden by existing policy.”

“The devil is in the details,” says Randy Helten, of West End Neighbours, an ad hoc community group that opposes spot rezoning and “renovictions.” “We’re happy that the city has given the West End priority for resources in the planning process,” he says, but he warns that “everyone in the West End should look at the plan very cautiously regarding how it is implemented.”

West End Renters Association president Christine Ackermann thinks the concurrent plans are a “positive step” but says she has yet to fully review the city staff report. She plans to speak to the report when council reconvenes to vote on the recommendations at city hall July 28.