In response to Heal the Divide, the collective open letter from 105 Keefer public hearing participants.
Dear Heal the Divide signatories,
Thank you for sharing your concerns with me and members of City Council, and for taking the time to write to us.
I want to first acknowledge and commend the contributions of the many different community members who have engaged in this planning process. I was impressed by the continued attendance during the 26 hours of public hearings, and I recognize there were many hours spent preparing transportation to help people attend, organizing translation support, and most importantly, encouraging those who might have been apprehensive to speak to Council to share their thoughts and experiences. Dialogue and engagement are essential to a healthy and strong democracy, and I really appreciate your efforts.
The heated debate that came out of the 105 Keefer public hearings was something we all encountered. I agree that the “jeering and booing” was not an issue of age and that this inappropriate behaviour was displayed by a variety of people of different ages and opinions, and was prevalent outside Council Chamber in other parts of City Hall, where it was difficult to curtail.
As Mayor, and as Chair for these public hearings, I’ll continue to ask for respectful engagement from everyone involved. Understanding and acceptance of difference are vital to maintaining an inclusive and diverse city, and are values we are committed to upholding in Vancouver. I’m optimistic that we can collectively create a considerate space for continued discussion, and appreciate your reminder that our “words and statements extend beyond the Council Chamber into the public realm, public opinion, and written history of our City.”
What emerged most clearly from the 105 Keefer process is that Chinatown continues to be part of the heart and soul of Vancouver, and your work is a reflection of this. I look forward to collaborating with you and others to move towards real solutions for the longstanding issues of affordability, housing for seniors, and honouring this historic neighbourhood and community, alongside our federal and provincial governments.
Yours for Vancouver,