(Epilogue first: Unfortunately, none of these topics were addressed at the meeting, but municipal lawyer and former city councillor Jonathan Baker gave his satirical take on it, in Tweeting the Meeting.) Vision Vancouver is holding what is has dubbed the “West End Town Hall” on West End issues today.
Vision Vancouver “West End Town Hall”
St. Paul’s Anglican Church (1130 Jervis St)
Registration 6:30 pm, start 7 pm
The invitation reads, “Get a community update from your elected officials, and participate in a question and answer session.” You can register online. http://westendtownhall.eventbrite.ca/.
Present from Vision Vancouver will be Mayor Gregor Robertson, Councillor Tim Stevenson, Park Board Commissioners Aaron Jasper and Trevor Loke and School Board Trustee Cherie Payne.
West End Neighbours (WEN) sees this meeting as a good opportunity to address these elected officials directly on issue that concern the West End. Here are some topics and questions that have come to our attention recently, and may be worth addressing to the Mayor and his colleagues.
- Mayor Robertson (or Commissioners Jasper and Loke), is the City exploring changes to the relationship between the City, the Park Board, and Community Centre Associations in ways that would reduce independent decision-making for parks and community centres — including our own West End Community Centre?
- Mayor Robertson, why is Vision Vancouver, a political party, holding this event, rather than the City of Vancouver? Are opinions from residents only to be received by Vision Vancouver? Or are they best shared with other elected officials City Council as a whole, and City staff?
- Councillor Stevenson, what are your ideas for the future of the West End? More rental housing? Towers? More commercial development? What is your ideal density (population) for the neighbourhood?
- Mayor, some citizens are concerned that the City appears to be replacing more traditional “forms of engagement” and public consultation with new (and shallow) forms such as Twitter and online discussion groups.
- West End community plan process: Could the City take steps to notify all residents that this process is underway, as many people still are not aware of it? A mailing to every resident, as was done in previous planning efforts, would be one good step. And, well before the draft plan goes to Council for approval, can you also implement a survey of all West End residents to accurately and objectively gauge community support? Finally, the Mayor has promised that the community will have two weeks to review the draft plan before it goes to Council at the end of 2013, but two weeks may be too short. Could the Mayor increase this to one or two months?
- Specific questions about major rezonings in the West End: People may wish to ask specific questions about high-profile rezonings, like Bidwell and Davie (originally Maxine’s, now called the Alexandria, under construction for 21 storeys), 1401 Comox (originally St John’s Church, rezoning approved in July but awaiting the shovel), and Beach Towers (open house on November 14) — to name a few.
- Mayor’ West End Advisory Committee (questions for the Mayor, and for Cherie Payne, who was a co-chair until resigning to run for office with Vision): Why did this committee not hold a single meeting in the West End? Will the errors identified by WEN in the final WEMAC report be corrected for the record? Why did WEMAC publicly endorse the demolition of St John’s Church, and why did members of WEMAC speak at the 1401 Comox rezoning (first and last speakers) in favor of the rezoning.
- Transit / transportation: Seniors and others may wish to mention problems getting around the West End, particularly problems with the #5 and #6 bus routes. Will the City do anything within its powers to improve bus service in our community?
- West End schools (Cherie Payne): What is the status of space availability and learning resources at our West End schools (Lord Roberts Elementary, Annex, and King George Secondary School, plus Roberts Continuing Education Centre)? How are you and the School Board considering our community’s changing needs in the context of the West End community planning process now underway? With a growing population, are you promoting efforts to increase and enhance school capacity?
- Community planning and transparency of information: When will the City be releasing information on the “existing zoned capacity” in the West End. City staff stated in a recent Regular Council meeting that that the information exists. The numbers will indicate how many new residents could be accommodated in the West End under current zoning, without the need for rezoning. This is important fundamental information for the community planning process and should be made public. Why is it not being released?
- Cactus Club (English Bay, on Beach Ave) request to extend liquor sales hours: Today (November 7) is the deadline for public input on an application by the Cactus Club (English Bay, on Beach Ave) to extend liquor sales from the current midnight cutoff, to new hours at 1 am Sunday thru Thursday and 2 am Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is on public park land, and the originally City permitted this private use of public land in order to earn revenues for the City. Do you see the proposed extension of liquor hours an incremental intrusion in the use of public space? Is the Cactus Club paying sufficient revenues to public coffers to justify the intrusion on park space?
- Community amenities (Joe Fortes Library, West End Community Centre, Aquatic Centre, parks, etc): With a growing population in the West End, how do you plan to increase and enhance our community amenities?
- Private use of public park buildings and space: What is your general philosophy about corporate use of park space? People are also asking this in context of the leasing of space at the Creekside Community Centre to the Tap and Barrel bar. Creekside was built as a community amenity and a legacy from the Olympic games, not as a cash cow. Does the renting of public space to a private business give unfair advantage?
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