New survey in the light of past surveys

This suggestion from a Richmond City Centre resident arrived via email:

The City of Richmond has a new  Social Planning Strategy Public Survey. It may be part of the plan to build a foundation to claim that the Garden City Lands need to be developed in order to satisfy people’s demands. Be sure not to get caught when taking the survey. Most questions have a field for comments. One purpose you can use it for is to express the desire to keep the Garden City Lands as a green space with outdoor community activities such as walking trails and urban agriculture within walking distance of the City Centre and other surrounding areas.

The survey seems very much better than the Richmond Community Survey of 2007 and the Garden City Lands Open House Feedback survey of 2008, which both misled the public in blatant ways. However, in view of those past experiences, I realized that the cautionary advice was worth heeding.

Here’s how I tried to follow it in the draft version of my responses.

  1. For question 1, the intro is “The things that I value most about Richmond,” and I added “Respect for agricultural sustainability, especially in the key issue, the Garden City Lands.”
  2. For question 2, the intro is “I believe it is important that the City has a role in strategies which focus on the following,” and I added “Urban agriculture, including community gardens and education.”
  3. For question 3, the survey intro includes “In priority order, I feel that the five most important social issues that will need to be addressed in the next ten years,” and I added “Food security.”
  4. For question 4, the survey intro is “I believe that the most appropriate roles for the City involve the following.” At the end, I commented, “In every case, it depends entirely on how the role is undertaken. For example, I strongly disagree with how it was undertaken with the Richmond Responsible Dog Owners Group (RRDOG) and strongly agree with how it has been done with community groups at Terra Nova Rural Farm. The latter should become the standard.” Note: For background, see “Terra Nova—an inspiring saga.”
  5. Unfortunately there is no opportunity for comments re question 5.
  6. Question 6 begins with this prompt: “Thinking about the future, my vision for a socially sustainable Richmond in 2021 is as follows.” I wrote:
    “In the socially sustainable Richmond of 2021, the Garden City Lands—an agricultural and ecological park—will be the centre and symbol of the social values of the Garden City. The poor and landless and isolated will have a place to come together with all sorts of fellow citizens to grow their own food and receive both gardening advice and social support. In other parts of the park, the wetlands will be enhanced as habitat and a carbon sink that symbolically and effectively helps clear our air. Along with reservoir lakes, there will be trails and gathering places that enable the people of the dense City Centre and other visitors to enjoy the tranquil setting without disturbing it. The citizens will proudly and invitingly share with agri-tourists and eco-tourists this central park that feeds the neediest and engages and enhances the whole community.”
  7. Questions 7 and 8 are two final opportunities for comments. Because of the past surveys that were used to manipulate the citizens more than to genuinely gather opinion, I may caution about the need to handle this survey differently. I will probably express concern that the survey was designed in a way that made it almost impossible to express the core view that working toward food sustainability, ecological or environmental sustainability, and  green space sustainability can be a central aspect of “social sustainability.” That final term is the most abstract of the lot and therefore hard to envision, but I think it means an ongoing great community in the present and the future as far as human eye can see.

Updates on June 14, 2010:

  1. Please note that time is running out, as survey’s must be in by 5 p.m. on June 18, 2010.
  2. This post addresses the print version of the survey. The online version has slightly different numbering and, in one case, more limited choices.

1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Roland Says:

    Just had a look at the survey:

    I look at the Gordian Knot as
    (i) affordability and
    (ii) do we get good bang for our taxpayer buck.

    In the late 1970’s early 1980’s Richmond embarked on the first phases of densification, effectively rezoning large residential parcels ( 1/2 acre -1 acre ) from Lansdowne up to Blundell, Garden City to Gilbert. It had to foresight back then to help establish co-ops (aka affordable) housing in various pockets of the City.

    In addition, the City had the option to purchase the Eastern most 30 acres of the Lansdowne Mall site(where Kwantlen etc now sits)….but chose not to, hence the GCL dilemma. The City, past and present , made a bad roll of the dice putting much of its “public needs” eggs into the GCL agenda, it has come up snake eyes.

    Since then, the City has put the horse before the cart, allowed hi – density and catered almost exclusively to higher end market housing.

    Currently, the City instead does trade-offs with developers, having token amounts of “cheaper” units in a larger project in return for higher density. Cheaper does not necessarily equate with affordable. The City has missed the boat re: making this a liveable City for all spectrums of society, this has long ago become a City beyond the means of the average citizen.

    Re: Tax dollars

    In my view, the City has developed an Oedipus complex, more concerned with shallow appearances ( worse the closer one is to City center ) as opposed to depth.

    In essence the survey can best be summarized as what ARE the REAL priorities versus the imagined ? The buck starts and stops at City Hall.

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