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Vancouver starts city-wide planning with substantial public engagement process

Warren Frey
Vancouver starts city-wide planning with substantial public engagement process

The City of Vancouver is planning like it’s never planned before.

Vancouver city council recently approved a city-wide planning and engagement process set to launch by fall 2019. The plan is “intended to address the social, economic, environmental and cultural aspects of daily life, in addition to land-use and transportation planning while integrating key considerations of reconciliation, equity and resiliency,” according to a City of Vancouver release. 

The city will soft-launch community consultation on the plan in the fall and will follow up with a more substantial launch of a “listening phase,” Vancouver-South assistant director of long range and community planning assistant director Susan Haid said.

The planning and engagement process will take three years. Throughout 2019 and up to spring 2020 the city will look for common values and key issues identified by speaking to the public and through spring 2020 to winter 2021 they will “considering choices and trade-offs and developing strategic directions with the community,” the release said.

 The engagement process is scheduled to end by spring 2022 with drafting, revising and finalizing of the plan.  

“It’s a broad, city-wide engagement, reaching out with all sectors of all communities to create an outline of a plan,” Haid said.

“We’re putting a particular emphasis on reaching out to vulnerable populations such as urban Indigenous peoples, youth, lower income citizens and those with disabilities,” she said.

While the plan takes public input into account, it will also work with current programs such as the Greenest City initiative and efforts to improve availability of affordable housing.

“We do identify existing foundational policies like Housing Vancouver and Greenest City. We’re starting off with existing adoptive policy such as community plans as a foundation and then implementing those as we plan and update existing policies as we go. We’re looking longer term, towards 2050 and beyond,” Haid said.

The City of Vancouver is currently the only municipality in the region without a comprehensive plan, she said.

“The last plan was completed and approved by city council in 1995, and it’s a very high-level document and doesn’t have a physical plan,” she said. “We have community visions that took 14 years and area plans but nothing that’s comprehensive.”

“It’s exciting and also a very tall order. We have a little over three years to work vigorously with communities and our teams and there’s significant technical work as well,” Haid said. “It’s a once in a generation opportunity for planning and city building for Vancouver.”

She added the timing works strategically as TransLink is working on its own regional transportation strategy at the same time, as is Metro Vancouver with an update of the regional growth strategy.

“Vancouver’s intent is to work with our partners in the region and in Cascadia to address the challenge. It’s really fortuitous that regional plans are happening at the same time,” Haid said.

“This is a major opportunity for residents to get involved and plan their future together and chart a course for how our city can continue to grow while helping to make life more affordable,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a statement. “This plan will help us make sure that people can continue to live in the communities they love while welcoming in new neighbours.”

“This is the first time in over 20 years that the City of Vancouver has undertaken a city-wide planning process, and it will be far more than planning future land use and transportation connections. While those are integral parts to any city plan, this strategic planning process will consider social well-being, economic health, environmental sustainability and cultural vibrancy while ensuring that all communities can be a part of collectively guiding our future,” City of Vancouver general manager of planning, urban design and sustainability Gil Kelley said in a statement.

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