A capacity crowd of over fifty people filled the meeting room at the Boys and Girls Club last night to hear about the WSE (its history, policy status, and current political context), ask questions, and offer ideas. It was really inspiring! Many experienced political organizers were in the room, and people presented a wide range of particular concerns or angles on the problem.
So many, in fact, that they can’t all be listed here, but here are a few highlights we heard:
- cities who have built roads on the waterfront have lived to regret it; completely opposite to all present-day planning thinking
- take the high road and big picture: no destruction of parks, period; no development without community consultation, period
- concern not to “poke hornet’s nest”; on the other hand, need to act while we’ve got a progressive council
- figure out how to effectively intervene in City Hall processes
- make connections with residents in other parts of the city
- take time to understand the arguments FOR the extension, gather credible evidence against
- prepare a petition to demonstrate wide community opposition to the WSE
- develop arguments for traffic alternatives e.g. one-way streets
- concerns about dry dock, truck turnaround, soft ground in park for building
- find ways to mobilize against Outer Station move to park
- Freedom of Information request to try to get any traffic studies city has done
- combine “politics of opposition and proposition”: resist bad ideas, generate good ones
- rename group to Doug Fluhrer Park Preservation or Redevelopment
- protect parks as not-for-profit spaces, good for public health, environment
- more public education resources desired
- strike balance between coordination and decentralization, between broad vision and focus
In fact, there was discussion throughout the evening about the focus of the group: should it be on developing alternatives, defending the park, stopping the road, “improving” the park, etc.?
For our part, we remain convinced that the best thing for us as a working group is to focus on opposing the extension. It is a narrow focus, but an achievable goal. It will be complemented by the other imaginative and defensive work many of us will continue to do alongside. Wellington X is a sort of a “pop-up” group. Hopefully it will be a meeting ground for many people on this one issue, and hopefully it will no longer be needed a year or two from now, when we can configure our political actions differently according to the needs at the time.
As agreed at the meeting, we will be setting up a meeting for January, which will be devoted largely to breakout groups on particular areas of strategy and action. Stay tuned! In the mean time, we will continue to learn about what work will be most effective with City Hall. If you would like to be involved in that over the next month, let us know. Other things you could do:
- tell your friends about this issue and share this blog as information
- contact us to talk about angles and perspectives that are missing
- write a blog post or suggest a topic for one
- take action as you see fit on the Outer Station move (e.g. write your councillor, the Whig — these have effects!)
- suggest a possible break out group for the January meeting
In closing, let us call for optimism! We are on track to win on this issue. As we said, NINE councillors are against the extension (out of thirteen votes total). We need to fortify their resolve, and support them, but we are far ahead of where we were a few years ago or even a few months ago on this issue.
Anne, Laura, Mary, & Sayyida