Counterspin: Responses to Vancouver Councillors’ spin on the RGS

As our society at last begins to notice the Regional Growth Strategy, certain individuals are rising up as its champions. Our society will benefit by getting the facts out there. A full and open dialogue and discussion is what the citizens of Metro Vancouver need.  Some mayors are speaking up in its defense. Certain Vancouver councillors are trying to defend the RGS on their blogs. Vancouver is the most powerful of all Metro Vancouver municipalities in the board voting structure, so let’s look at what some of them are saying.

For the record,  Mayor Gregor Robertson the other councillors in his political party ignored strong requests from citizens for Vancouver Council to hold an information meeting, and even to host a session of the public hearing on Vancouver soil regarding the RGS. The Vancouver public had virtually no involvement in the most critical final stages of the RGS. But the video of the Vancouver City Council debate on the RGS on March 3, 2011, shows some strong arguments (e.g., see Clr Cadman at 1:50:00 on the slider) against the RGS, completely ignored by Vision Vancouver, which holds absolute power (8 of 11 votes) on Council.

Councillor Andrea Reimer posted her thoughts on the RGS on January 15, 2011 (the day after the Metro Vancouver board rammed the RGS through a vote to send it to municipalities for acceptance). MetroVanWatch responded to her in this post, and invited her response. No reply.

Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs has been working hard to defend the RGS with recent posts on his blog. We address some of the spin here.

On 20-May-2011, Geoff Meggs’ post, titled “Battle lines becoming clearer in debate over Regional Growth Strategy as developers focus on affordability crisis,” ends with this: “What jumps out at me is the absence of a champion for the RGS, either in politics or among the non-governmental organizations interested in sustainable growth. Any takers?”
MetroVanWatch comment: Actually, sustainability-oriented individuals and NGOs who wrote or spoke out at the public hearing sessions in Nov/Dec 2010 were strongly opposed to the RGS. Their views were ignored.The RGS does pose serious problems for green space protection, protection of agriculture, and more. Perhaps that’s why no RGS champions have emerged.

A 27-May-2011 Geoff Meggs’ post, titled “Chong seeks to calm fears about collapse of Regional Growth Strategy,” quotes NDP MLA Scott Fraser in the May 25 Hansard. He says “The 46 public meetings, the 2,000 members of the public, the business community, etc., that were involved and all of the discussions with municipal councils. There were 38 different meetings with municipal councils that participated in this — a large, large process — and presentations and stakeholders of every colour and stripe. That process concluded. The public consultation process concluded as part of this whole growth strategy process. That consultation process was deemed concluded in late November and by early December, with a formal public hearing held at four venues around the region.
MetroVanWatch comment: Mr Fraser perhaps does not realize that the “teeth” were added to the RGS long after the many public consultation meetings ended. The horse-trading, the negotiating of details, the compromises between municipalities, were done in the final few months before the public hearing–mainly by senior planners. The public hearings themselves were poorly advertised, held in only four locations, and poorly attended. There was virtually no media coverage. Most of the public had no idea of the existence or the significance of the RGS. The system was flawed. Praise is due to Coquitlam for being the sole municipality to challenge the RGS. This arbitration process is important, and the concerns of Coquitlam should be given a full hearing. Coquitlam is, to our knowledge, the ONLY municipality that held a town hall meeting on the RGS. Coquitlam has taken a courageous stand to challenge the RGS. Their views deserve careful attention.

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Citizens concerned about public benefits arising from decisions at Vancouver's City Hall.
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