Editor's Note: This opinion essay is the first time we have published writing of its type in Capital Daily. Opinion pieces will always be categorized under the "Capital Ideas" tag. We are hoping that by offering a platform for informed opinion writing we can spark conversations about this imperfect city, and we eagerly anticipate hearing from people and groups on all points of Victoria's political compass. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and should be specifically about issues of governance, city planning, politics, and the future of Victoria.
I am a new board member of the Fernwood Community Association (FCA), one of a dozen community associations in Victoria with an official relationship with city hall, and I have been stunned and disappointed by my experience. The FCA is run by a coterie of longtime residents that routinely disregards its own bylaws—or applies them only selectively and self-servingly—reactively opposes change, and oversees a disorganized and mismanaged organization with little transparency or accountability. Newcomers are treated with suspicion and the organization is run much more like a private club than an accountable public organization.
The experience has led me to ask questions about the origins and role of community associations in Victoria more broadly.
i'm sure the next meeting will be fantastic.
It’s debatable whether this has worked for Vancouver, but it most certainly would not work in Victoria. Victoria is a small city with urban villages that are ideally suited for three- to six-storey buildings. If residential areas don’t choose to tastefully densify around urban villages—the plainly stated goal of Victoria’s Official Community Plan (OCP)—then we will end up a miniature-sized Vancouver, with Starlight-sized developments, and the same big-city problems.
^ that's an interesting statement. "big-city problems" emanate from dense, market-rate housing? and not from say government housing for the hard-to-house?
Of course, it is not a black-and-white issue. Since the 1970s, some of the community associations have evolved with the times. Even the early neighbourhood associations did some good work, and in Fernwood, Paul Phillips (the patron saint of Fernwood) and the FCA of the mid-1970s was instrumental in creating Fernwood Square, which was achieved by shutting to cars a small stretch of road that once acted as the terminus of the streetcar line that ran from downtown to the Belfry.
Today, the Oaklands Association is a well-run organization, with daycare services, children’s programming, and an active community centre. North Park Neighbourhood Association is a model of progressive thought and open-mindedness, and the dedicated leaders of that organization have done so much to support marginalized populations and the unhoused during the pandemic and before. Many community associations have progressive, hard-working volunteers who are open to change and tasteful densification of residential areas. They tend to be the minority.
But many community associations, including my own, are stuck in post-war Canada. They view themselves as self-appointed gatekeepers of change, and are run overwhelmingly by established residents, longtime members, and homeowners. Little is done to attract newcomers or a diverse and inclusive set of voices at the table. There are relatively few young people, newcomers to Victoria, or renters in the associations, and the involvement of Indigenous people is practically nil, from what I’ve observed. The associations, for the most part, are set up to defend a certain conception of what residential Victoria is meant to be: white and middle class, with few renters, people of colour, or unwed mothers to bring down property values.
this marxist author is off his freaking rocker. he wants everyone in social housing and "more unwed mothers!"
oh here we go:
It’s clear that community associations need to change. To support this goal, I have joined with more than a hundred Fernwoodians to launch a new campaign called Fernwood Forward, in an effort to bring positive change to the FCA and Fernwood as a whole.
Edited by Victoria Watcher, 21 June 2021 - 05:03 AM.