Urban planners criticize city scheme 0
The City of Vancouver let go earlier this year its director of planning, Brent Toderian, who spoke out about the influence of developers on city hall. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SARAH MURRAY FOR GLOBAL CIVIC)
Some consider them as three wise men, while others see the trio as former public servants with an axe to grind. I'm referring to Larry Beasley, Ray Spaxman and Brent Toderian, all former directors of planning for the City of Vancouver.
Spaxman was fired from his post over two decades ago. Toderian was unceremoniously dumped by Mayor Gregor Robertson earlier this year. After a high profile city career, Beasley retired from his post in 2006 and now works in the private sector.
The "Three Wise Men" spoke at the Urban Land Institute series last week that is looking at the future of Vancouver in 2050. Their controversial remarks are still reverberating through city hall. The former planners claim Vancouver increasingly looks like it has no real plan for the future and is hobbling along issue by issue.
Toderian accused the current administration of "a kind of urbanism by checklist or urbanism by paint-by-numbers."
Beasley, while not shy about sharing his opinions, has never been this openly critical of his former employer.
He told the Vancouver Sun, "The plans have to stay about 10 years ahead of the market or else there's going to be ad-hockery and a sense of crisis management and doesn't that sound like Vancouver city council dealing with planning issues in the last few years? I think it does. I think we are about 10 years behind."
Spaxman also blasted the Vision Vancouver administration in the same article. "I feel as if I am on an Easter egg hunt. Council is rushing off after density, they're rushing after lane housing, they're rushing after cycle paths. They're all rushing after the latest panacea that happens to offer some solution but isn't."
Toderian subsequently appeared on CKNW's Simi Sara Show. In response to an innocuous question about whether Vancouver is doing a good job developing a city of the future, Toderian volunteered the following: ".that doesn't say that developers don't have huge influence and sometimes inappropriate influence."
The host then asked, "You talked about developers and you said some of them have inappropriate influence. What does that mean?"
Toderian said, ".some developers have as much influence or more than staff do at city hall." With that comment, Toderian put his finger on the real issue of the current power struggle happening behind the scenes.
Robertson's office must be glad these barbs were delivered during the dog days of summer. But something tells me we haven't heard the last of Vancouver's "Three Wise Men" on the city's future.