Another day, another neighbourhood group that gathers steam to oppose development in their neighbourhood.
Marpole residents had a first community meeting last night, the first that has brought them together to exchange information and gear themselves up to have more input into development in their neighbourhood. This was, of course, provoked by the plans for the big Marine Gateway project in their neighbourhood (covered extensively in previous posts).
This bulletin from Jo-Anne Pringle, one of the residents who was surprised at what she discovered was being planned.
At the June 8th Open House hosted by the City, myself and a couple of other residents (whom I had not met before the Open House), agreed that our neighbourhood had been poorly informed of the changes to this project and felt that we needed to bring our notoriously quiet community together to create a community voice. So that night three of us formed the Marpole Area Resident’s Alliance. We organized a neighbhourhood meeting and personally invited the Mayor and each City Councillor. For the past three weeks a small team of us have been going door to door and handing out notices of our Neighbourhood meeting. Having no funds, we each contributed our own money to copy hand-outs and posters. We did not have a translator and so the notices could only be done in English – but short on time and funds, we did the best we could. By Sunday night our team had hand delivered to between 500 – 600 doors. 5 City Councillors RSVP’d that they would attend our meeting.
We held that meeting last night at the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre from 7-9pm. We began the meeting with over 100 residents in attendance and 5 City Councillors. Alliance members contributed more personal funds and we put up a series of presentation materials on boards so that residents and Councillors could view the proposed project (from 7-7:30) before our discussion. Several residents signed up to speak, and the Councillors listened to comments and feedback from our community for an hour and a half.
We felt our meeting was quite successful as we were able to bring a number of issues to Council’s attention such as; the drastic change to the project without any notification to the neighbourhood about this change; the fact that the outdated renderings remained at the site for two months after the proposed project had undergone a major redesign; the poor notification area; and the fact that renters and co-ops were not on the notification list, even if they lived within the City’s 2 block radius notification area.
We outright told Council the need for them not to allow this Rezoning Application to go to Public Hearing over the summer. And we further stated that we felt that another step in community consultation needed to take place, before setting a date for a Public Hearing could even be considered. We were very clear in stating that the next step should be workshops right in our community, not at Oakridge or another location, but right in our own neighbourhood.
Our meeting concluded with each Councillor recapping feedback that they heard from the floor. They indicated a desire to implement a change in the notification process, the size of the notification area and the terms of qualification (ie: all residents such as those who rent and those who live in co-ops, not just owners). They also agreed that a workshop would be a good idea and indicated a willingness to help us make that happen.
At the meeting many residents added their names to the contact list for the Alliance and many people personally came up to me and indicated their desire to work as a team member on the Alliance to take our efforts to the next step.
The Alliance has now begun receiving e-mails from residents over towards Granville Street, as a few days ago a new Rezoning Application went up there to tear down the old Safeway and put up 24, 14 and 9 story towers. Marpole will soon be book-ended with development and towers all at the same time and I suspect that the voice of the Resident’s Alliance will continue to grow stronger and the call from residents to ensure that all corners of our community are properly consulted with is not overlooked.