Talk about jumping the gun! Alderman Joe Connelly has decided, despite the fact calls for a Developer Panel to discuss Plan It targets are already outlined in the omnibus list of 76 (or so) amendments to Plan It sent to administration two weeks ago, that what they need is a Developer Panel. And he’s making a motion to get things going now, instead of waiting for Administration to digest what they were just sent.

Here’s the text of his motion:

WHEREAS the Plan-It project has produced a visionary document which will establish the “blueprint” for growth and transportation for the next 60 years with an impact on our city that cannot be understated;

AND WHEREAS the assumptions in the Plan-It document suggest a significant change in consumer and commuting behaviors which may or may not occur;

AND WHEREAS the measure outlined in the Plan-It document were seen to be too prescriptive and, in some cases, impossible to achieve;

AND WHEREAS given the challenges of predicting the future, a prudent and cautious approach to the Plan-It strategy should be employed.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the measures being prescribed in the Plan-It document be removed and be developed in the implementation phase of the project.

AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that a committee of industry stakeholders be struck to determine by consensus, measures that can realistically be achieved together with an implementation strategy and make recommendations to Council through the Standing Policy Committee on Land Use Planning and Transportation by 2009 December 09.

I was made aware of Ald Connelly’s motion yesterday in a phone call from Metro Calgary. They asked for my opinion on it. What they basically mentioned to me was Connelly was looking to set up the Developer Panel. You can read my comments in their article but I wanted to go into a little more depth here. (Sound bites only provide so much explanation.)

I had three points to Metro:

  1. I agree with Ald. Connelly, we need to get the targets right. This is an important document that helps set out the future of our city. I don’t think anyone wants to delay it any longer than need be. Let’s get on with the process of ‘doing’ already.
  2. After more than a year of public consultation (where hundreds of citizens provided their feedback) and a week of public hearings (where almost 200 people signed up to speak to council in the middle of a work day) what more could anyone possibly have to say? If that is not enough time for them to have had their say, how much time would ever be enough?
  3. If the development industry did not feel they were given a voice, shouldn’t every other citizen be in the same boat? Why create a panel represented by only one industry? I believe it was Ald. Farrell who said during the hearings that if a panel absolutely had to be struck – thereby admitting the consultation the City has undertaken for the past year was not good enough and that one group of citizens IS more important than another – then there were several developers on the pro-side (such as the developer of Garrison Woods) and many other intelligent citizens (such as Chris Turner and Neil Keough) with exceeding knowledge of such things, who would have a lot to add to that discussion and should be included on the panel.

In short, how many times does council need to do the same thing over and over and over again? Let’s finish the process we’ve already started instead of beginning a new one.

However, what the folks from Metro didn’t tell me was the first part of Connelly’s resolution: that the targets be scraped and be created during the implementation phase. This is perhaps the most ridiculous thing I’ve read in a while, and I can’t help but want to laugh and cry at the same time.

What would be the POINT of creating a visionary document, laying out the future growth of the city of Calgary, that does not have any measures indicating how we would do that?! That would be like going on a diet without changing your eating habits or ever stepping on a scale to see if you’re losing weight. (Strangely enough some would argue this would be similar to the odd council plan that has come before and is part of the reason we are on the current issue-riddled path.)

How does one even set goals while already implementing a project? I can’t imagine having built the fence in my backyard without having a plan first. “Let’s just start building a fence and see where it ends up. Once we’re done we can decide if we should have had a goal before we started.”

On the topics of asinine ideas and doing only what the development industry wants, I’m reminded of a comment made by one of the presenters during the Plan It public hearings that went something like this: The development industry tells us they build only what the people of Calgary want. Studies have shown what we want is un-sustainable and will eventually cause taxes to skyrocket or potentially the City to go broke. There are solutions, but when the developers keep offering us the cause of the problem, we’re going to take it because we want it. It is like offering a child a bowl of ice cream for breakfast. They’ll take the bowl of ice cream every day, unless a responsible adult steps in and helps them make the healthy decision – the right decision for the child’s future.

PS – I don’t think the development industry is evil like many on the pro-side of Plan It. For an alternate point of view, where I defend the development industry’s rightful hesitations, see my Think! Alberta posts.