City of Vancouver FAILS to post opposition letters on Marine Gardens rezoning: Systemic failure in Public Hearing process?

Marine Gardens ContextIs manipulation of the City of Vancouver’s Public Hearing process an entrenched practice? (Public Hearing tonight 24-Feb starting 6 pm for Concord Pacific’s Marine Gardens –  enormous rezoning, for 27 and 21 storeys, 584 units.)

We post this information below as evidence and for the record. Further below is an explanation, and then the full text of the opposition letter that has been withheld from public view (while rezoning-support letters from agents of the proponent have been posted online). The damage to the integrity of this Public Hearing is already irreversible. Even if the missing opposition letters are posted now, it’s too late for anyone who may searched and benefited from reading them over the past few days. (Update: The letter from Mr. Jones was posted online just before noon on Feb 24, but with no explanation. It was the only letter posted in this batch. How many others have still been held back despite having been sent to City Hall prior to others that have been posted? Update 3 pm: No new letters have been posted. Is Council going to get them in time to prepare for the Public Hearing? Update the next day, Feb 25: More letters were posted about 24 minutes before the Public Hearing began, and the “3rd distribution” of Feb 24 went online the morning of Feb 25. Yet we are still aware of some letters not yet posted online, and are investigating…)

We hope the Provincial government, legal officials, and public will take note. If City Hall is failing to protect the public interest and operate Public Hearings fairly, who will?

Screen shot at 8:28 am on the day of the Public Hearing. How many letters have been withheld so far?

Screen shot at 8:28 am on the day of the Public Hearing. How many letters have been withheld so far? Most of the support letters are connected with the proponent. If that fair?

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E-mail (23-Feb-2015, 11 pm) from Joseph Jones to City of Vancouver (Mayor, Council, senior officials): “City of Vancouver FAILURE to timely post my comment on Marine Gardens”
Below find copied my comment on 1. REZONING: 445 Southwest Marine Drive (Marine Gardens) submitted by email Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 11:57 PM and acknowledged by City of Vancouver on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 9:19 AM.
I am dismayed to find later comment posted to the web on the Public Hearing Agenda as correspondence, with my comment still not postedI have had previous experience of City Hall “losing” my comment and posting it for public viewing only AFTER the public hearing, and then only after complaint – with no explanation ever offered of what “went wrong.” Can you explain to me why your comment system is failing? Is it mistake-riddled, or is this insidious redaction? This is not acceptable.
When is a public hearing not a public hearing? When it FAILS to hear the public!
Sincerely, Joseph Jones
PS  Executive summary: Opposed
**********************

From CityHallWatch: For context, our article yesterday revealed what appears to be a coordinated letter-writing effort to support a rezoning — by agents directly connected to Concord Pacific, the proponent (A spotlight on “public” support vs opposition for rezonings: Case study of Marine Gardens – Agents of Concord Pacific (proponent) dominate letters). Now it appears there is a systemic problem in which letters in opposition to rezonings are not being posted publicly online in a timely way or at all.

Why is this important?

  • In January 2015, BC Supreme Court Justice McEwan slammed the municipal government for its handling of a Public Hearing in the case Community Association of New Yaletown v. City of Vancouver. He overturned a rezoning, cancelled a development permit, and ordered the City to do the Public Hearing again. (The City has announced that it will appeal the case.) This Court judgement shows that there are serious problems with processes involving Public Hearings.
  • This is actual evidence from Joseph Jones (and we are aware of at least another example on this public hearing) showing that, whatever the explanation, the City is in fact withholding correspondence opposed to a major rezoning.
  • The City’s Procedure Bylaw requires correspondence to be posted for a good reason. It helps other citizens consider the proposed rezoning and develop their own thoughts for addressing City Council. These letters could influence the outcome of the Public Hearing.

To be updated as new information comes in…

********************

ORIGINAL CONFIRMATION OF RECEIPT, PLUS ORIGINAL E-MAIL FROM JOSEPH JONES TO CITY OF VANCOUVER, NOT POSTED ONLINE WHILE CONCORD PACIFIC AGENTS’ LETTERS IN SUPPORT HAVE BEEN POSTED ONLINE.

from:    Correspondence Group, City Clerk’s Office 
to:    Joseph Jones 
date:    Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 9:19 AM
subject:    RE: 1. REZONING: 445 Southwest Marine Drive (Marine Gardens)
mailed-by:    vancouver.ca

Thank you for your correspondence. 

During a public hearing, Council hears from all of the interested
speakers. At the end of that process, Council declares the speakers’
list closed. 

All written comments submitted for the public hearing and received
up to 15 minutes after the close of the speakers’ list will be
distributed to members of Council for their consideration.

Written comments submitted for the public hearing more than 15
minutes after the close of the speakers’ list will not be
distributed to Council in compliance with S18.10 of the City’s
Procedure Bylaw.

When submitting written comments, keep your document to 1500 words
or less if the public hearing has already started. If the public
hearing has not taken place yet, there is no limit to the number of
words you can submit.

Written comments submitted to the public hearing will be posted on
the City website and must include the name of the writer. Additional
contact information (e.g. email address) will be removed.

For more information about public hearings, visit
vancouver.ca/publichearings.

Thank you.

 *******************

ORIGINAL MESSAGE FROM JOSEPH JONES TO CITY OF VANCOUVER

From: Joseph Jones
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 11:57 PM
To: Correspondence Group, City Clerk’s Office; Robertson, Gregor;
Affleck, George; Ball, Elizabeth; Carr, Adriane; De Genova, Melissa;
Deal, Heather; Jang, Kerry; Louie, Raymond; Meggs, Geoff; Reimer,
Andrea; Stevenson, Tim
Subject: Re: 1. REZONING: 445 Southwest Marine Drive (Marine
Gardens)

Re: 1. REZONING: 445 Southwest Marine Drive (Marine Gardens)

Before public hearing at Council on 24 February 2015

The scale and detail of the drawings that accompany the staff report make it difficult to be sure about what is proposed for the entire site.  If pedestrian connections permit ground level access throughout the entire site, that aspect deserves strong commendation.

Human penetrability of this site would then contrast sharply with the walled-off fortress that planners and Council allowed Westbank to plop onto the 2.3 acres at 2220 Kingsway – a podium to cover the entire site, even though the Norquay Plan had promised the neighborhood a plaza.

Unfortunately, the foregoing conditional commendation must be tempered by remark on the abject and ongoing failures of City of Vancouver housing policy.

In this particular instance, a site which presently provides 70 affordable housing units is proposed to become a site that is redeveloped to 582 far less affordable housing units, the great majority of them to be sold for whatever can be extracted from a buyer. This fact is scarcely mitigated by the requirement of a measly 70 “replacement market rental” units.

Think about that. This is more than eight-fold increase in number of units. But in the process, what has been 100% affordable rental will become about 12% market affordable rental, so-called – meaning not affordable at all to most existing tenants.

What this approach says to all of Vancouver is that a developer-planner-Council axis is eager to implement the expulsion from Vancouver of the lower economic strata. Eager to serve the global capital attracted by the 2010 Olympics, which Bob Rennie notoriously delighted to call a “$6 billion ad buy.” Not eager to respect existing residents of Vancouver.

Vancouver is growing. Notice that none of the GROWTH on this Marine Gardens site is allocated to renters. Not one bit of it. If renters today constitute about 50% of Vancouver residents, de facto “policy” here is saying that there should only be 12% renters in Vancouver in the future.

The cash CAC of $10 million allocated to “the Affordable Housing Reserve” inspires no confidence. (1) New “affordable” is far less affordable.  (2) New is not really “new,” because it destroys existing affordable rental. (2) Black hole accounting allows the City to sequester money that rots over time. Whenever – no, IF ever – that money reappears, it will not have present value. The City’s financial legerdemain becomes legendary. (3) To dump the great majority of all CAC into “housing” and daycare hollows out the in-step-with-development public realm improvements that should benefit a wide range of Vancouver residents, not just the handful that get a place to live or a spot in a daycare.

The last is worst. Credible report is coming out of Marine Gardens about Concord Pacific’s use of strong-arm tactics to bully, frighten, silence, and push out existing tenants. City of Vancouver appears to countenance these tactics.

There is some strange comfort in this news of abuse. The City of Vancouver will lessen discriminatory practice by pursuing a less class-based approach to expulsion of existing residents. Now it isn’t only the bottom-rung-of-the-ladder residents in Downtown Eastside SROs who experience the brutality of clearance by rapacious landlords.

Over time, the consciousness raised by such give-nothing-take-all policies has to exact its due, one way or another. It may be as simple as increased incidence of physical sickness that places a greater drain on public resources. It may be a displaced child who grows up to cost society far more than it ever extracted. It may be an expensive lawsuit loss that ties the City of Vancouver up in knots.

Use your imaginations to see something besides dollars. Quit channeling Scrooge McDuck. Listen at a public hearing.

You need to look beyond the financial-percentage bottom line of developers and start doing some total-cost social accounting. Because if you do this kind of evil, or even just allow it, the results will inevitably blow back on all of us. And us does include you.

For the above reasons, record me as OPPOSED to the shameful Marine Gardens done-deal.

Sincerely,

Joseph Jones

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