Who are we? What is our city for? Who is our city for?

In 2014, the Vancouver City Council started the process of creating a new strategic plan for the City. From March-May 2014, the Council held four “strategy sessions” to identify high-level goals that would serve as the foundation for a strategic planning process.

The goal of the strategy sessions was to review, refine and verify the City’s vision for the community. The Council began by identifying their shared values and vision for the community, defining what excellent leadership looks like, and discussing what they would like their legacy to be. Strategy sessions also included an environmental scan, looking at the City’s purpose, inputs, outcomes, feedback loops, etc.

The strategic planning sessions were a starting point to explore answers to important questions…

  • What kind of city do we want to be?
  • What do we want for our future?
  • What are the most pressing issues and challenges our community will face in the next 5-10 years?
  • What should our priorities be?

Gordon’s last post about the TEAM letter, asking for a city plan to accompany a new city planner, led to a quick google search which uncovered the strategic plan above, sadly though, it’s from the ‘wrong’ Vancouver (Washington, not BC).

If there was one takeaway from the Urban Planning Events of 2015 session at the MOV last week, it was that there is lots of concern for Vancouver’s ‘Trees’ without much in the way of seeing its ‘Forest’.

In Vancouver (BC) the ‘Forest’ is the region, it is the Bridge to Nowhere Sunshine Coast, the highwayification up to the city’s borders, the various LNG projects, and even ‘Site C’ dam (as the city’s growth is used as part of the justification), the paving over of paradise farm land to put up more parking lots, and the effects of climate change … just as much as the ‘Forest’ is the 0.3% rental vacancy rates, the $2 million is the new $1 million, and whether Old Neighborhoods can include New Friends, the looming arrival of 100,000 … 1,000,000 people, etc.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” … said my old planning prof. Lets start planning our Forest democratically, transparently, holistically, and at the same time showing acknowledgement of both the externalities inherent to our behavior, and the vested interests which might want to act counter to what is actually ‘good’.

Lets have Vancouver be more like Vancouver, because we’ve got some hard questions to answer … lets start with these ones, and go from there:

  • What kind of city do we want to be?

  • What do we want for our future?