Do community “visions” really look to the future? Or reflect the needs of the city?

Council’s decision Sept. 23 to approve the West Point Grey Community Vision plan drew little attention, perhaps because the Vision document means little will happen in Point Grey as a result.

As Bob Ransford points out in today’s Sun, the plan was given a poor review by the City Perspectives Panel, an arms-length group of community leaders who assess the document from a wider perspective.

Point Grey activists were outraged by the CPP view that the plan had “glaring shortcomings” when it came to finding new housing options even for existing residents, like seniors, who wish to downsize.

But the CPP’s viewpoint was ably represented before council by Andrea Rolls, herself a veteran of the community planning process in Kensingston-Cedar Cottage.  She spoke compellingly, from the perspective of the community, about the need for community vision plans to be living and creative documents, not just a mandate to freeze a neighbourhood in time.

Council, including me, voted to adopt the West Point Grey plan.

But no one who heard Rolls could feel confident that the community vision processes really the reflect the future needs of their own communities, never mind the city as a whole. Even financially-secure seniors in Point Grey and Dunbar, to name two examples, have few options if they wish downsize to a townhouse or apartment in their own neighbourhood given current attitudes.

For that reason, this motion proposed for the upcoming council meeting by Councillors Raymond Louie and Andrea Reimer is especially significant. Which way forward for community visions? And which communities will lead the way?