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Stuffed full of empty promises

Jody Vance: The long-awaited Vancouver Plan lands with a thud, putting off yet again changes that needed to happen – and were discussed – years ago.

The long-awaited, and very expensive, Vancouver Plan was unveiled this week. Vancouverites are being asked for their input about how we should grow by 2050 and beyond, and create a more liveable, affordable, and sustainable city.

Chock full of flowery language and far-flung targets, for me the plan lands not with hope, but frustration. The term “tone deaf” comes to mind at the sheer lack of urgency. This plan takes us allllllllllll the way back to the starting line.

We are decades behind already.

With great hope I clicked the link on Jericho Lands. Would I find the target for completion? Plan for beginning construction? Nothing. Nada. What I found was the equivalent of brochure notes on land partnership…and that’s it.

I clicked further to, another slick website with fancy graphics and pretty pictures that taxpayers bucked up for; again zero actual delivery information.

Can we not do better here? Streamline, simplify, answer the call? Tens of millions of dollars spent on this plan that blankets Vancouver as a single entity, which it is not and will never be.

The slick sell of a future minus homelessness, plus sustainability and affordability has been fed to taxpayers in Vancouver for decades.

I, for one, am stuffed full of empty promises.

The “housing strategy” is a long list of promises and actiony words, again, with a decade long timeline. Why? Why not now?

This football has been punted downfield so many times that we’re tuning out the game. It’s starting to feel that’s exactly what some of our politicians want. Too cynical? It’s either that or our municipal government can’t (won’t?) act in an urgent way to the level of crisis.

Residents of Vancouver see the spiral, as infrastructure fails and basic services break. Garbage and recycling left uncollected, potholes at every turn left to grow. Graffiti and vandalism everywhere. Crime spiking.

These aren’t just nuisances, together they are smashing the liveability of this beautiful city right now. Targeting 2050? Imagine if this plan had dropped in 2019 - how many rewrites would it have needed by now?

With global crisis atop global crisis, affordable housing promises of the past must be addressed NOW. No more shovels held for photo ops – let’s put those shovels in the ground. Fast track permitting to create living spaces for low and middle income families.

This starts with finally and decisively staring down those who’ve made fighting density in their urban neighbourhoods a full-time job. The days of blocking developments that fit with established zoning should be over. It will likely take higher levels of government stepping in to make this happen, but happen it must.

This week’s Middle suggests that it’s time for grown-up pants to be pulled up to the reality that our cities are growing because people want to live here. Catching up and making space must be a priority.

As it stands today, we don’t even have room for those already here. The way I see it there are two choices:

1) Wrap your head around more people living near you.

2) Chase space, cash out, and relocate.

Plans were made long ago about what can/should go where - that planning was done with consultation - it makes no sense that we do it all over again.

So let’s just get to it. No more grandiose election promises. No more ribbon cutting without the heavy equipment rolling in like a bike lane pylon in Stanley Park.

Upzoning, greater density at transit hubs, and yes, more gentle density throughout overprotected single family neighbourhoods. All of it. Let’s GO.