Mayor calls Special Meeting to approve CD-1 bylaw for 508 Helmcken on April 16th. Was sufficient notice given? Or were rules broken?

Gregor Robertson(Update: 6:20 pm April 16 – No response yet received from the VPD on this case.)

(Anyone interested in seeing things in action, we encourage you to consider going to B.C. Supreme Court, Room 60, at 10 am Thursday, April 16, to observe the proceedings with the City of Vancouver’s appeal of the Court decision that overturned the original rezoning.)

Is Vancouver City Council following its own regulations? (Doesn’t look like it.) What recourse does the public have for violations?

Mayor Robertson abruptly announced during the final seconds of a Council Meeting on April 15th that a Special Council Meeting will be held the next day, to expedite the passage of a new CD-1 bylaw for the controversial 508 Helmcken tower. Less than 23 hours of notice was provided. Was this sufficient notice? It appears not.

The Procedure Bylaw contains the set of rules that govern meetings of Council.

Section 3.3 (Publication of agenda) is quite specific:

The City Clerk must:
(a)    deliver a copy of the agenda for each meeting to each Council member at his or her office at City Hall no later than noon on the day preceding the regular meeting; and
(b)    make a copy of the agenda for each meeting available to the public at City Hall in advance of the meeting.

CoV_Meetings_Apr15_6pm

Screenshot of City website as of 6 pm on Wednesday, April 15. No mention of Special Meeting on April 16.

As of 6 pm on April 15th (the day before), there was no meeting on the Council agenda webpage; a screenshot of the City’s website is included above.

The Procedure Bylaw allows for the Mayor or for a majority of Councillors to schedule a Special Meeting, provided that sufficient notice is given.

Are there penalties for violations? Who enforces the Bylaw if not City Council? Is this a job for the Vancouver Police Department? But guess who is the Chair of the Vancouver Police Board. (Mayor Gregor.) If his action violated the Procedure Bylaw, and now that this information is public, does City Council have to reschedule the Special Meeting to provide sufficient notice according to the letter of the law? Stay tuned. We’ll check with the VPD and report back.

If other citizens think this schedule violated the Procedure Bylaw, we encourage you too to write to Mayor and Council about this and see what they say. If they cannot follow their own rules about something as basic as this, what does that tell us about bigger, more important policies, regulations, and legislation?

It’s worth noting the extraordinary lengths that Mayor Robertson is going to help Brenhill Development Corporation by expediting a CD-1 rezoning for 508 Helmcken. Imagine if the City put the same urgency in getting the Killarney Seniors Centre rolling, or if it similar efforts were to made to move the renewal of the Marpole Community Centre forward.

The Procedure Bylaw originates from section 165 of the Vancouver Charter:

By-laws respecting Council proceedings and other administrative matters

165.  The Council may by by-law provide for

Conduct at Council meetings

(a) the conduct of Council members at meetings of the Council and its committees;

Now the big question that remains is did all of the Councillors receive notice of the Special Meeting by noon on April 15th? Will the Special Meeting of Council be held legally? Why the rush?

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