For anyone that has paying attention the City is holding a series of sessions called “Pin-it” I attend one and had an opportunity to place my little blue stickers in areas that I felt important. The objective is to listen to people living inside and outside Saint John to assist Common Council in developing priorities. The objective is to make Saint John more attractive for families and businesses, stop and reverse the population erosion, so to speak.
Look, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but haven’t we been here before with the same objectives under different names? Since I have lived and worked in Saint John over the past 40 plus years we have had:
– The Municipal Land Use and Urban Development Plan developed when Steven Bedford was the Director of Planning; ( I was on the Committee)
– There was Imagine the Possibilities;
– Then Goals for Saint John;
– Then Growth Strategy.
- and finally the Chartwell Report that morphed into Vision 2015.that came and went.
All of these “strategic plans” or priority planning outcomes were either shelved or were not completed. My question, I believe to be reasonable and logical is: If the same culture and the same attitudes exist, why would we expect the results to be any different?
Here is a sore point for many Saint Johners – Does anyone remember the “North of Union” public participation sessions? I do I attended all three. Many of the concerns and ideas raised in the meetings were incorporated into the Big Ideas, Concept Plan, Guide to Public Improvements and Design Guidelines. These documents clearly outlined a community-based vision for the Uptown and the North of Union site.
Community members articulated their concerns regarding the public participation process and what they did not want for Uptown Saint John. The main outstanding concerns include:
- The North of Union project and the public consultation process was being rushed and these rushed decisions would have lasting negative impacts on the community.
- Community members were not clear on how and when they would be able to further participate in shaping both the North of Union development and other developments in Saint John in the future.
- The City was not sufficiently forthcoming with information and decision making lacked transparency. The absence of other stakeholders (e.g., Province, private sector, etc.) raised concerns about how the community’s ideas would be implemented.
- Saint John needed of more detailed urban design guidelines for the North of Union site.
- The North of Union site was not the best location and/or an appropriate location for the proposed police headquarters.
- There was no clear commitment to protect, reuse and/or revitalize existing heritage buildings on the North of Union site and in the Uptown area.
….and what was the outcome? Common Council and City management proceeded regardless of will and wishes of the people.
As I said before I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but if this Council fails to establish and deliver on priorities that are important to the people Pin-it will quickly become Spin-it and the exodus will continue.