Vancouver Regulation Redesign Reveals Vastly Improved Website and Policy Rethink but Can’t Prevent Abuse of City Staff

Regulation Redesign – Winter 2019 Open House
Much like the City of Vancouver’s overlapping, confusing, and sometimes even contradictory policies, the city’s website can be a complex beast in its own right. Even with all of our experience, it continues to steal precious hours of sleep from Hannah and I as we scour its pages trying to ensure the information we present on City Duo is as accurate as possible.

Thankfully, the new regulation redesign looks like it will not only simplify the process for Vancouver’s construction industry, but will even help the average person like us. We had a chance to interact with the new rezoning policy library section planned for the website, and to say it’s an improvement is a gross understatement.

This library feels like a hub of information, with all the various land use policies, guidelines, and bylaws listed under their appropriate subsections, and short explanations of how these broader groups differ.

However, the regulation redesign is so much more than just a website, it’s about city staff showing how much they value the community, and how they respect its desire to simplify the complexities of the development process. Even for us, the numerous advisory panels, review stages, policies, and guidelines can feel overwhelming, it’s hard to know just what’s going on, let alone why.

 

Listening to this feedback, staff appear to be considering several options, from consolidating the number of advisory panels, to re-examining whether policies that govern FSR limits should be applied if community plans already specify strict setbacks and other regulations.

All of this has been in response to input received from the public, and it’s clear the 65 people who attended the two open houses were well respected, but this doesn’t mean everyone returned that sentiment.

This isn’t a new development, as even within the last few months we’ve noticed the tone of civic engagement worsen, but thought it would improve after the election was over. So, we feel it’s unfortunate when influential public figures appear to promote their own view by implying city staff subscribe to a certain political vision. In council chambers, these so called disparaging accusations can be silenced by city councillors, but city staff are forced to endure far worse treatment from other people at events like this one.

Sadly, even though this open house was for the public to suggest how city staff could better serve them, at least one person chose to victimize them instead. Coming into the room in a huff, they demanded why city staff were standing around instead of providing them a guided walkthrough of each board.

Regulation Redesign Page 6.jpg

-Source (pg 6)

Ignoring these explanations, this individual chose to abuse the city staff member instead. Their verbal attack started by describing how they were sick of dealing with city staff’s “petty academic brains,” and questioned why staff were so grossly overpaid as they didn’t seem trained to do their jobs.

While this person complained the public was being mislead by city staff who need an attitude change and don’t give a “expletive,” adding that they weren’t really being listened to as staff weren’t taking notes with a pen and paper. Ironically, they later called the city foolish for not having a predetermined end goal.

When this public servant, who remained respectful and polite throughout this barrage, explained that the desire was to listen to public input first in order to shape policy later, they were dismissed as making excuses.

Despite such horrible treatment and bias, we have seen city staff continually demonstrate a real respect for constructive public feedback, and an extreme tolerance for abuse. So, why not help them make our city even better by taking a few minutes to let them know how they can make things easier for you and the rest of us to understand, by taking taking a look the open house boards and filling out this quick survey, or by sending an email to regredesign@vancouver.ca.

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