Fighting City Hall: Community association NEEDS HELP to take on Vancouver government/developer to defend fair public processes

If there was ever an example of David versus Goliath, this is it. Except that there are two Goliaths and one David. The battle is escalating between the Community Association of New Yaletown on one side — and an axis created by the taxpayer-funded, deep-pocketed City of Vancouver and a major developer on the other.  See this 1.5 minute slide show prepared by CANY.

(The City’s legal budget has escalated by hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past two years. How much of that is to fight the 15+ citizen-initiated lawsuits?)

The B.C. Supreme Court judge ordered that a public hearing be held again, and cancelled a development permit due to “procedural unfairness” (Community Association of New Yaletown v. Vancouver (City), 2015 BCSC 117 — see text of ruling here). But the CoV and Brenhill Developments have appealed the ruling, and the Court dates are set for April 16 and 17, 2015. This is serious stuff. For example, CoV fought tooth and nail to conceal the real deal from the public. It was only after using freedom of information legislation that CANY forced the City to reveal that it had a secret contract with details already in place, long before the public hearing..

Donations are still urgently needed, and CANY has only a few more days to reach its final fund-raising target. How to donate: http://www.newyaletown.ca/donate/

This is a landmark case that could affect how public hearings are conducted not only in Vancouver, but also other municipalities in Metro Vancouver region, across the province of British Columbia, and even across Canada. (See our story “Shockwaves from Supreme Court decision on New Yaletown public hearing: McMillan law firm bulletin reveals new realization in government and development industry?“)

As we have written, this case is about the integrity of City Hall. The Courts ruled that public hearings must be “fair, open and transparent.” It will be interesting to see what justifications our local government, guided by the elected Mayor and Council, use to fight that. How can anyone defend secrecy in public processes? And how far will the Courts go to permit it?

Please support CANY in their efforts on behalf of hundreds of neighbourhoods and many thousands of citizens. Local government is the closest one to the people. Let’s make it fair.

Law firm McMillan in a brief posted online has explained things well in plain language.

Excerpt:

“The result of this decision on future public hearings and development permit processes is that the City:

  • must provide intelligible and understandable information to the public to allow for scrutiny and consideration;
  • must provide the public with a fair opportunity to communicate with City Council about the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal; and
  • must scrupulously consider the input from the public and cannot arrive at a pre-ordained conclusion.”

How can any government challenge that?

Read the full text here: http://www.mcmillan.ca/Recent-BC-Decision-Quashes-Rezoning-and-Land-Swap

Note that the City of Vancouver’s budget for “Legal Services” increased by more than $805,000 from 2012 through 2014. Does that reflect the cost of the City fighting against its own citizens in the many lawsuits against it?

It takes courage and sacrifice for citizens to take on the government for something they believe in. This current Council has a term until October 2018. If the City succeeds in this appeal, citizens can expect a lot more legal battles in the coming years. Please support CANY to get this case handled fairly and satisfactorily for the public interest!

 

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