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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Urbanist’s diary, Week 2: lobbying in two places at once

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This is the second of a multi-part series that will follow environmentalists Chris Henschel and Allegra Newman as they share their first-hand experiences dealing with an intensification project directly affecting their own residence near Island Park Drive. This week Chris sends his update to us from Denmark.

COPENHAGEN — I am in Denmark at the Copenhagen Climate Talks trying to make forests count. But I’m still trying to look out for my backyard while supporting urban intensification. An interesting observation from my vantage point here is that all the residences downtown are 6 stories high. But this works because there aren’t one-floor houses sitting in their shadow. (Side point: biking is also such an important mode of transportation here that there are even bicycle round abouts).
I’ve taken what I think are the first few steps in a development dialogue: emailing community and business associations, the local councilor, talking to the planning staff at the City. I get the sense that there is definitely common ground to be found here, but fear that lack of time or capacity could prevent the arrival at consensus. I wonder how often this is the case with development proposals?

My early experience is also of course that one should always verify information. Although the City prefers parking access off of sidestreets, I’ve learned that they would accept a proposal for access of Wellington Street and evaluate it based on objective criteria. So it will probably not be the City’s rules, but rather the preferences of the stakeholders (and the councilor) that win the day.

I will miss the public meeting on the 15th but Allegra will go and she’s a planner, so our issue will be in good hands.

What I don’t understand is how the meeting fits into the decision-making process. Do decisions get made there? Is input there given more weight than subsequent input? What happens next and how quickly?

I’m hoping there will be enough time after the holidays to deal with this. I will be pretty lobbied out after Copenhagen. Is it reasonable to expect that everyone will cooperate and collaborate so this will be easier than getting developed countries to reduce greenhouse gases and protect their forests?

photo by Kris Krüg