Public Input to Council re Town Hall meeting Feb 17/14

Public Input, CNV Council Meeting, 17 Feb 2014

I’m Fred Dawkins,  speaking on behalf of North Van City Voices.

Last week there were two community meetings where City residents discussed specific proposals from the draft Official Community Plan. One was the special town hall meeting for residents of the East 1st area on the proposed rezoning from single family to medium-density residential. The other was the first meeting of a new community association for the Hamilton Heights neighborhood. That meeting was triggered by the school board’s plans for the Lucas Centre property, but the draft OCP was also discussed, particularly the proposal to allow both secondary suites and laneway homes on all RS-1 properties.

In both cases, many in attendance said they were surprised to learn of the proposed changes. This was the first they had heard of them. Despite all the workshops and open houses, a large number of City residents remain unaware of City Shaping and its potential to significantly change their neighborhood.

Both meetings were heavily attended because they were focused on a specific neighborhood and a specific change that would affect THEIR neighborhood. It’s been said that all politics is local. If you want people to participate, make it local. People may be too immersed in their own busy lives to attend a workshop about some high-level urban planning exercise. But tell them their quiet little area may soon be sprouting six-storey condo buildings, or that their street might have the equivalent of a triplex on every property, then they pay attention. That’s when you really start to get the public input you must have in order to develop an OCP that truly meets the needs of residents.

We should have had neighborhood-specific town hall sessions, like the 1st Street meeting, for every area that will be impacted by changes proposed in the draft OCP. Lower Lonsdale for one. Definitely Central Lonsdale. And perhaps one for the single-family residential areas on the laneway & secondary suite proposal. It’s clear that the only way to generate real feedback is to make these meetings issue-specific, and invite the residents of that area.

Therefore, Voices proposes that the next City Shaping town hall meeting, scheduled for March 6, be focused on the specific changes proposed for Central Lonsdale, and that residents of that area be invited to participate, ideally by mail or door-to-door flyers detailing those proposals. We would be happy to help staff make this happen.

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