Developers, community activists have polar opposite perspectives on city consultation

Bob Ransford, a Sun columnist  and a knowledgeable observer of Vancouver’s development scene, today expresses a view gaining increasing prominence among developers. The city’s public consultation processes, some argue, are now so tilted to loud local voices that any development is subject to potentially terminal delays.

Ransford points to one possible solution, now making the rounds in development circles, proposed by U.S. urbanist Andres Duany, who sees development strangled by “an orgy of public process.” Duany would create a sort of jury system, in which more or less randomly-selected residents would provide feedback on proposed developments.

At the other end of the spectrum, as Ransford notes, are many Vancouver community and neighbourhood activists, who see the city drowning in a developer-driven tsunami of new towers. Their anxiety was triggered by EcoDensity, but has not abated under the new Vision Vancouver council. They agree the process is terrible, but for the opposite reasons. They feel it is too fast and ignores community interests.

So we have two polar opposite views of the same public processes.

At next week’s council meeting, Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillor Andrea Reimer will propose this resolution in an effort to calm the troubled waters in the West End, where West End Neighbours have garnered thousands of names on a petition demanding an entirely new community plan before any further rezonings.

Ransford’s column captures a growing gap — perhaps chasm — in perceptions about the city’s planning process, a dangerous situation for communities and developers alike.