Citizens assembly: Neither fair nor effective

Zool Suleman writes in the Vancouver Sun:

In her opinion article Creating a better community plan, Rachel Magnusson extols the virtues of a citizens assembly that is in the process of recruiting participation by residents of Vancouver’s East Vancouver neighbourhood known as Grandview-Woodland, anchored by Commercial Drive.

Authorized by Vancouver city council, this assembly is in response to a community urban plan process that raised howls of protest in 2013 when, after months of supposed listening, residents heard that multiple towers were to be raised in their neighbourhood, some as high as 32 stories.

With the citizens assembly, Vancouver city council is again embarked on a road heavy on process and light on listening. Magnusson and her fellow consultants, who are being paid $150,000 or more out of a total civic allotment of $275,000, are very enamoured by their credentials. Potent terms such as democracy, insight and community are rhetorically utilized to instil trust in the process. Trust is the main issue. Trust between the city’s planning department and the citizens of Grandview-Woodland is sorely lacking.

Our Community Our Plan, a citizens group based in the neighbourhood, has tried repeatedly to advise Magnusson, members of the planning department and city council of the pitfalls in this process, but to no avail, so in this space let us try again.
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