The City of Vancouver is calling for a wider array of voices to respond to an online survey that will help inform the city-wide plan, also known as the Vancouver Plan.
So far, the majority of responses received have been from English speakers over 40 without young children. Feedback has also been high from people between 20 and 29.
But city staff want to reach a broader audience for the survey, which seeks residents’ views about their hopes and challenges living in Vancouver, as well as the hopes and challenges faced by people who want to live in the city. Results will determine what issues staff will research further.
Susan Haid, deputy director of planning for long-range planning, said staff would like to collect more input from families with young children, young adults, millennials, those with diverse cultural backgrounds, and those who’ve faced barriers or lacked the opportunity to participate in the past.
In addition to English, the survey has been translated into traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Punjabi and Tagalog.
Questions range from participants’ hopes and fears for future generations to what they think is the city’s most urgent issue. Information such as survey-takers' age, gender and postal code is also collected.
To date, about 4,000 people have filled out the survey, which launched in late November and closes at the end of February. Staff hope to hear from at least 6,000.
“It's really a major opportunity to hear from all voices in the city about the values that are important to them. It's really about the heart and the soul of the city,” Haid said.
The survey is part of the initial “listening and learning” phase of the Vancouver Plan, which is intended to help develop guiding principles.
Staff are also conducting what they’ve called an “intercept” version of the survey where they attend events such as recent Lunar New Year celebrations, or travel to various areas of the city to reach a wider variety of people.
“For example, we have a team that is out on the Downtown Eastside, Strathcona, Kitsilano, South Vancouver. Going out into neighbourhoods, we think, is probably a more effective way to hear from more diverse voices,” Haid said.
Phase one has also included discussions with various community groups such as the District Parent Advisory Council, the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. and Sustainabiliteens, whose members are encouraged to fill out the survey. More community discussions will be held over the next couple of months, including by request.
Staff have met with representatives from the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations as well.
“We’re looking to their leadership on ways to engage their communities,” Haid said.
NPA Coun. Colleen Hardwick is conducting a personal “50-neighbourhood” tour of the city to collect feedback about where residents think density should be located. Haid said staff will take input Hardwick receives and it will “help feed into the Vancouver Plan process.”
“The neighbourhood scale input is welcome and our outreach will go that direction, as well as really tapping into some of the city-wide issues — some of the issues and communities that are larger than Vancouver,” Haid said.
“For example, when we're looking at transportation planning or growth management, we are actively liaising with TransLink and Metro Vancouver, other levels of government and the communities that are associated with those. It's really city-wide and neighbourhood and community-based — running those engagements concurrently.”
Meanwhile, a multi-day community summit is in the works for May, which will look at the future of the city.
Karis Hiebert, manager of the Vancouver Plan project team, is involved in organizing it.
“The May summit is really going to be an opportunity for members of the community and members of the public to attend and share some of their ideas about the future of the city, and for them to learn more about what city staff are working on in various areas,” she said.
“…It will pick up on some of the themes that we are working on now, but also ask people to give their ideas about how we can address some areas of challenge and about the kind of future that they want.”
City staff will present an initial report to council in early March, which outlines early results from phase one and next steps. A full report on the first phase of engagement for the city-wide plan will be presented to council in July.
The survey can be found HERE.