19 October 2013

Park Board needs a better communication plan

What is with the Park Board? They pass a motion to put a new bicycle path through Kitsilano and Haddon Parks and then crumble when the public object. The motion came with a map clearly showing the route would put the path through both passive and active green areas. An unknown citizen took that map and marked it out on the ground and all hell breaks loose in the neighbourhood.

Most of the community had no idea this path was coming. Park Board did their usual drive-by consultation of sending out a survey-taker and interviewed some park users with an ambiguous question asking if they think a dedicated path is necessary. Having got the answer they wanted, they proceeded to draw up their plans without consulting the neighbourhood.

The survey results were accurate. A dedicated bicycle path is necessary. It is necessary for both commuters and recreational users. It is necessary for the safety of both riders and pedestrians. What is not necessary is the route mapped out in the plan.

Rather than a clear communication plan to ease the fears and instead educate and consult with the community, they send out Vice-chair Aaron Jasper to say too bad it's a done deal."To be clear" Jasper said to the Vancouver Courier "this decision will not be reversed". This is working with the community? This is engaging residents? This is responsible government?

And now after a week of citizen protest, the Park Board Chair sends out, on a Friday, a press release saying the route hasn't been chosen yet. That everyone should calm down and that consultation with the community will take place.

This is a communication plan? Make a decision, send out the pit-bull to defend it and then back away saying everyone opposing the plan was confused and wrong? The bullying tactics the Vision Commissioners started in their first term continue. Meaningful consultation means working with the community, not telling them after decisions are made to suck it up. Good government means working for the people, not against them. It means bringing communities together, not pitting them against each other.

A good communications plan lays out the decision making process so that everyone can see a transparent and fair process. Once again the Vision Vancouver commissioners have shown that they have neither the communication skills nor the leadership at Park Board to bring about change within the city. Once again our elected have failed us.

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