OAK BAY letter: Approach progress with creativity

One could take issue with the veracity of much of Mr. Mears malevolent missive (New OCP may be a developer’s dream, letters, June 6)

One could take issue with the veracity of much of Mr. Mears malevolent missive (New OCP may be a developer’s dream, letters, June 6) regarding the official community plan, but I respond here only to its motivation and tone.

Citizens have a right to opinions about our community. We have the right to try to persuade others to believe what we believe, even when what we believe may be misinformed, untrue or motivated by narrow-mindedness, selfishness, paranoia, ignorance, or all of these. However, citizens may also be interested in positive progress and open-mindedness about how and where we live.

Human settlement evolves; urban plans are made then revised as technologies, needs and preferences change. Impetus for change also comes from compelling forces such as population growth, food security and the effects of climate change. Other motivators are more philosophical or values-based such as humanitarianism, philanthropy, societal norms and social responsibility.

What our town looks and feels like, and how it performs, reflects planning policies through design and construction. Articulating our vision of citizenship in this context is the purpose of an official community plan. Planning policy then guides public and commercial projects that give that vision form. This is where quality and characteristics of rich, heterogeneous, socially balanced density is created instead of over-crowding. This is where imaginative design and diversity are fostered, instead of ersatz, homogeneous blandness, and this is where a secure, verdant public realm is created instead of meager, leftover space between private enclaves.

OCPs, bylaws and public policy mandate and regulate desired qualities of our built environment and how it will accommodate the richness and character more people will bring.

Instead of fearing inevitable population growth in this wonderful part of the world, and instead of fabricating specious arguments ostensibly to protect it, we should encourage architects and developers toward higher ideals and creativity. Our leaders should insist on design and construction excellence reflecting our highest aspirations as enlightened citizens. We should support positive vision and avoid the shrill persuasions of the myopic, self-appointed watchdogs among us.

Franc D’Ambrosio, architect

Oak Bay