Agent of Change

As a result of my involvement with the West End Residents Association (WERA) as a former President and now as a Director I have had to think long and hard about proposed development projects in the West End and in the whole city.

Very early on in my thinking on proposed development projects I realized that it would be very important to have objective criteria to judge projects that would allow consistency.

One of the traps that community groups can fall into is being resistant to change, or not having a proactive concept of what kind of change they are advocating for.

A position that I have advocated for publicly is that any increase in density due to rezoning should respond to critical issues that are impacting the city. The most important issues for Vancouver are how is it going to be ecologically and economically sustainable while continuing to be a highly livable city. The questions that I ask myself when examining a proposed project are: “How will this project create more affordability? How will this project reduce the city’s carbon footprint? How is this project contributing to the city’s livability?”.

While very few project meet a positive review based on the criteria of livability, affordability and ecological sustainability at some point some projects will make a contribution in these areas. This goal of this position is to influence development to create a positive change in the city.

In Vancouver there is this false dichotomy between being “pro-development” and “anti-development” and if you don’t fall into one these camps one can be villainized by the forces of one of these camps or both. This veiled threat at the community level that if anyone speaks positively about increases in density, which conform to smart growth practices, will be perceived as being “pro-development”, is an impediment to responsible dialogue on how the city is going to respond to such critical issues as climate change and affordability.

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