Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Victoria OCP

I missed the meetings about the OCP over the weekend, I was camping in Carmanah Valley, the first time I had been there since the fall of 1989.   I was there with the Scouts, it was a good time and I encourage you to get involved with Scouting, but that is getting off of the topic.

I am looking at the City OCP website and what is on offer for public comment and I am underwhelmed.   We are being offered four very broad based high level concepts to choose from.

  • Option One - Growth in the Core Area
  • Option Two - Growth Focused on Primary Transit Corridors
  • Option Three - Diverse Villages
  • Option Four - Growth Focused near Waterfront and Green Spaces

I can not choose between any of the options because there are some many issues not addressed within the scenarios.   The primary issue addressed within the four scenarios is population growth.  There is little addressing issues of economics or social well being.

Most people have trouble seeing what these sort of high level concept plans means for their neighbourhoods.  As an example, in the third option, diverse villages, people likely to do not understand this will mean a lot of three to six story condos around the Fairfield Plaza or more condos in the centre of James Bay.  The information is not being placed in front of the public so that they can visualize the future.

We need to debate specific details about what is going to happen in the neighbourhoods.   Each different direction in the four scenarios has impacts on each neighbourhood. In fact there is no reason some areas could not trend towards one scenario and others to different ones.

Without knowing how the scenarios will be enacted, I can not make any sort of useful decision out them.

The community input has been summarized by topic area on a series of four to seven page long PDFs here.  The input from the public is stripped of all connection to who submitted or the context it came from.   The sheets are a series of one line bullet points.  I recognize some of my input, but only some of it.  

It would have been nice if the city posted the information that received in the way it was submitted to them.  So that we can know who submitted what and the bigger picture of their submission.  The City could have also invited people to make submissions about their vision for the city and made them available for others to read and comment on.  There are people in this City that are willing to put in huge amounts of time to think about the City and write their ideas.   These submissions could very likely containing some unique and innovative solutions to the future of the City.  

It would not have been hard for the City to allowed for a moderated discussion forum for the OCP online.   If this was too much for the City to handle, it could have outsourced this to Vibrant Victoria.

The engagement with the public has been weak and continues to be weak.  I suspect we are going to get a very bland status quo OCP at the end the process that will do little to make Victoria anything more than what it is now.

The only aspect of the whole process that I find interesting and innovative is the Citizen Insight Council.   This is a variation of a Wisdom Council.   I am very interested to see what comes of it.   The idea of randomly selecting 12 people and having them address a core aspect of the OCP.
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