Last February I posted about the District of North Vancouver and Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue teaming up to promote a robust civic engagement process to determine the future of Delbrook Lands in North Vancouver. This 1.7 ha-site where the Delbrook Recreation Centre currently sits is public land, and residents are being engaged to solicit ideas and parameters about what might replace the centre.
The first public meeting in January was to spitball ideas. The second and final consultation phase prior to Council determination was held on June 18th in North Vancouver. Six general concepts framed from the outcomes of the first meeting and follow-up survey were evaluated, costed, and prioritized by tables of residents.
- Minimal Change to Site
- Primarily Park / Recreation (green space and/or refurbish existing structures)
- Primarily Community and/or Cultural Facilities
- Non-Market Housing
- Market Housing
After the results of this meeting are assembled into a report, Council will make the final determination on what the preferred land use strategy for the site will be. The most common scenarios included a mix of open/green space, community amenities (child and senior care), and some form of social or non-market housing.
It was a wonderfully managed event and kudos to SFU, the District, and other volunteers for making it so. The dialogue session forced groups of residents to work through their differences to identify and develop a common vision.
I advocated strongly for as much market housing as the site could muster, but this is North Vancouver. It was a minority position and was walked back to a mix of market and non-market, among other uses. One participant at our table fought long and hard to keep the tennis courts, but also acquiesced in the name of compromise. And why people are so damn keen on community gardens I’ll never be sure. But they were an almost unanimous feature in each table’s presented scenario.
Working through differences, compromising, and focusing on common ground. It develops empathy for your neighbour and her opinions, despite how daffy you may feel them to be. And vice versa. I recommend it.
Whether Council actually takes any of this on board is anybody’s guess. Participation in a process like this does leave one with an unwarranted sense of ownership over the outcome. Some of us will inevitably be disappointed no matter what Council decides. For better or worse, the people have spoken.