A Feb. 13, 2013 Etobicoke Guardian article by Tamara Shephard begins with the following headline and opening sentences:
Grimes seeks development incentives
A letter and motion by Councillor Mark Grimes that Toronto council direct the city’s chief planner to incorporate development incentives into the draft Mimico-By-The-Lake Secondary Plan has shocked some in the community.
Etobicoke York Community Council passed Grimes’ motion at its Jan. 22 meeting. Toronto City Council will consider the matter at its Feb. 20 meeting.
City planners spent recent months researching and writing recommendations for the secondary plan, the emerging details of which planners presented to the community at a Dec. 6 open house. Residential building densities and height restrictions are among city planners’ recommendations.
[End of excerpt. To read full text, click on link in first sentence of this blog post.]
Meaningful community consultation
With regard to Mimico 20/20 or any process in which community consultation is an element, the underlying narrative concerns a basic question: What does meaningful community consultation entail?
Such consultation has two aspects:
Rhetoric. There’s a rhetorical aspect, in which a theoretical framework is presented and espoused regarding the value of community input on topics of community interest.
Substance. The other aspect is what actually occurs in terms of results, in terms of substance.
Sometimes rhetoric about community input is powerful but the eventual results may have no relation to rhetoric. In that case, there’s been a frontstage performance featuring extensive and wide-ranging community input – but the outcome indicates that community input has not been taken into account in a way that an objective observer would view as meaningful.
Sometimes rhetoric is not especially inspiring yet the results may indicate that community input has been taken into account.
Sometimes the rhetoric is great and the results are great.
Sometimes the rhetoric is uninspiring and the results are equally dismal.
Each process must be followed and documented on a case-by-case basis, as is being done by a wide range of interested observers and participants with regard to the Mimico 20/20 process.
The story of the re-development of Mimico is a long one. The outcome remains to be seen.
Whatever the outcome, communities have a duty to generate – and to share and preserve – their own stories, about topics such as re-devlopment in Ward 6, rather than depending entirely on others to perform this task for them.
A community’s sense of ownership of its own narrative — of its story and history — is an essential feature of a civil society.