The Shifting Goalposts

The following series of images illustrates how a certain City Government, without due process, conspired and so far succeeded in robbing residents and visitors alike of one of Vancouver’s precious protected public views. Given an opportunity to engage citizens in an open dialogue they opted instead for deception.

For many years the City has used photos featuring virtual “goalposts” like the ones on this page to describe visually Vancouver’s protected views. This typical goalpost shot of View Cone 9.1 (Cambie at 10th) was taken from the 2009 Downtown Capacity Options Study presented by then Director of Planning Brent Toderian.


The City website under Protected View Cones has always featured goalpost photos such as the one below from 2009 of Main Street View Cone 22. Notice the glowing text, dimmed background and brighter view area. This effect was triggered by mouse movement to literally ‘highlight’ the protected view. This was how this web page looked until 2010. Every View Cone had a similar page dedicated to it.

In April 2010 as shown below, out of the blue an altered and frankly confusing representation of View Cone 22 appeared on the website; the left goalpost had been shifted sharply to the right, making the view cone about 1/3 narrower. The east side of the view cone remained in its original position. But curiously, although on the City website they shifted the left goalpost, the highlight effect and text remained in the same position, centered on the previous wider view.


This has always felt to me like a sloppy maneuver, smacking of desperation. One wonders what the decision making process had to have been to have an outcome such as this.

The smaller view cone also appeared in handouts at a City Open House at that time, which is where I first encountered it. When questioned about this change I recall staff appeared puzzled by the question, implying that I was confused and that this was the view cone. A few people commented on this in the feedback forms. The City was caught red-handed attempting to rewrite history  George Orwell style.

This was how the webpage looked until 2013 when the website got an update and the latest version of the view cone as shown below was unveiled as part of the MPCP Implementation Report. Now the view cone has been restored to close to it’s original size, but shifted to the east so it no longer protects views to the northwest over downtown.


This, not surprisingly, coincided with ongoing discussions between The City and developers regarding rezoning to allow greater heights along the west side of Main Street from 2nd Avenue to 7th.  When people, including myself at a public hearing, have asked for an explanation for this mystery neither staff nor City Council had a plausible answer.

It is my view that this sequence of events shows a City government quite out of touch with residents, one prepared to do whatever they need to do to avoid having to engage in the messy business of due process and public consultation.


About leechap

A Community Sympathiser
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3 Responses to The Shifting Goalposts

  1. Jack says:

    you’ve done a fantastic job exposing this. You MUST get this information out to more people!

  2. leechap says:

    Thanks Jack
    RAMP is aware of these events. While this probably adds fuel to the fire for the interested observer, I don’t claim that it has any legal weight. There is no forensic chain of custody on the images and I don’t have exact dates. I just followed the story with interest and took screenshots along the way.

    Here’s another tidbit, more fuel for the fire, or grist for the mill if you like. At a CLG meeting around this time a senior planner, an occasionally compulsively honest fellow, related the story of how he watched while an unnamed senior staff member stood behind the person editing the web page making sure he got the goalpost change just right. Don’t you wish there was a recording of that?
    Again, all this can be denied and I can’t prove it, but it happened.

    The next chapter is about their elaborate and ultimately laughable attempt to justify this rewriting of history. I could write a book.

  3. Jack says:

    When and if any related issues come up in the media I would encourage you to share this info with them. Send it to CKNW – they are always looking for story ideas. It doesn’t matter how much legal weight this stuff has, it won’t be going to a court of law. But the public should be aware, and that will only happen if the media decide to do a story on it.

    It’s unlikely TV or newspapers will be interested, but email Bill Good, Simi Sara, and John McComb – one of them may be interested in following up and doing a show about it.

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