On a tip from North Van City Voices, here are the “Written Reasons for Judgment in the Appeal of the Community Association of New Yaletown vs City of Vancouver and Brenhill Developments.” As we have reported previously, this was a high profile case. The three judges of the B.C. Court of Appeal announced their decision in a session that lasted less than one minute on April 23, 2015, but did not provide their written reasons until this morning. Here is the link to the actual text.
Here we have created a PDF file of the document: Court reasons for judgment 2015 BCCA 227 CANY (New Yaletown) v Vancouver City, 21-May-2015
The punchline according to the three judges is this:
“When the City is considering rezoning a property, local residents have two important rights. They have the right to be given information sufficient to enable them to come to an informed, thoughtful and rational opinion about the merits of the rezoning…”
[CityHallWatch comment: This City of Vancouver failed to do respect this right in the 508 Helmcken/1099 Richards rezonings. And in many other City Council decisions on policies, rezonings, and development permits.]
“They also have the right to express this opinion to the City at a public hearing…”
[CityHallWatch coment: By majority vote, City Council completely ignored the opinions of the public at the public hearings on these two sites. City Council has ignored strong public opinion in many other cases too over the past several years. Scores of cases.]
“When citizens feel they have been denied one or both of these rights, they may seek a remedy in the courts by petitioning for judicial review…“
[CityHallWatch comment: Citizens group CANY tried this, at considerable expense and personal sacrifice. Other citizens have tried this too in about twenty legal actions.]
“However, judicial review has well defined limits. Citizens who disagree with the City’s view of the public interest must seek change through the political process rather than the courts…” [CityHallWatch comment: We have serious concerns about the very integrity of the 2014 civic election in Vancouver.]
Our initial response to this written judgement is that the entire government/legal/justice system could be biased, unfair, and unduly influenced by corporate money. In this system, WHO is looking out for and protecting the rights of the public, the people, the citizens? It seems the parties that won in this case happened to have the deepest pockets to pay for lawyers. In most of the recent citizen-launched actions against the City of Vancouver, it was the taxpayers’ money being used to fight neighbourhood groups. The Legal Department’s expenditures have escalated abruptly.
The main outcome of this judgment by the B.C. Court of Appeal may be to undermine trust in the justice system itself.
As we have documented in considerable detail, there are enormous concerns about the integrity of the 2014 civic election in Vancouver, and even the way the Provincial government abruptly introduced an extra year to municipal politicians’ terms for the 2014 election.
The Province failed to intervene to halt the destruction of ballots, thereby enabling the elimination of evidence that could have been used to clear up one of the many concerns about the voting process. And the current Provincial government has absolutely no intention of banning corporate or union donations for the 2018 civic election. And no intention of introducing dollar limits on election campaign donations. The Provincial government is just as addicted to corporate and union donations as several of the (mostly incumbent) municipal politicians and parties that won the 2014 election.
Nothing is going to change until the public turns up the heat. A lot more. And 2018 is far too late for that.We need to see the following, at least, and there is no reason for delay:
- Provincial government to ban corporate and union donations and put meaningful caps on dollar amounts of donations.
- Municipal lobbyist registry
- Powerful, independent whistleblower system at municipal level
- Ombudsperson for handling complaints
- Better standards for handling of freedom of information requests
- A bid committee for municipal government procurement, with full minutes posted online within 24 hours
- Continuous mandatory reporting of political donations to municipal politicians and parties
Article by Emily Jackson in Metro News Vancouver:
Excerpt: But the B.C. Court of Appeal sided with the city, which appealed the decision because it threw at least 10 developments at risk and left “very significant uncertainty” about what must be revealed to the public and what can remain behind closed doors in negotiations with developers.
Comment: The decision by these three judges is a sad day for democracy. The original actions by the City were bad enough. Now, with Court enabling the developer-funded regime at City Hall, things could get worse.