I have been an active member on our community association, and also have been involved in community development on various issues for some time. One of my major concerns has been that the City’s planning process is opaque and impenetrable for most people.
"The neighbourhoods in which we live are one of the things we value most, and which contribute directly to our quality of life."
I live in Kitchissippi and, even with a good city councilor, we seem to be constantly playing catch-up on development issues, rather than proactively moving towards a vision. We are dealing with a development process that focusses on a thousand tiny battles (individual development projects requiring input), but there does not seem to be an overall idea of what we are moving towards. I think there are a few main issues.
The City does a decent job of coming up with aspirational statements and values of what the city “should” be; they seem to be largely incapable of translating these statements into practice.
Planning discussions, instead of being a holistic discussion focusing on what makes a neighbourhood liveable, turn into narrowly focused technical discussions that most people do not understand.
It is not enough to say that citizens should develop greater literacy in the planning process; the process itself should be completely rethought to invite greater engagement.
"We absolutely need to do a better job of making the planning and development process more accessible to people."
We need to understand the development industry and how the planning process incentivizes certain types of development. The neighbourhoods in which we live are one of the things we value most, and which contribute directly to our quality of life. We absolutely need to do a better job of making the planning and development process more accessible to people.
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Ken Hoffman is a first time blog contributor of Walkable Ottawa.
Ken is a partner of One World Inc. He has spearheaded a number of community development initiatives, including an innovative program to help street-involved youth re-connect with employment and education, a strategy to support alternative approaches to education, and a strategy to support community economic development in Ottawa. Ken is a Fellow at the Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto, and an Associate at the Wellesley Institute in Toronto. He holds a Master’s Degree in Health Administration and a Graduate Diploma in Community Economic Development.