CCAN asks City Manager for full legal explanation on voiding of May 24 Public Hearing (3365 Commercial, etc.)

3365 Commercial streetscape

3365 Commercial streetscape

Below is text of correspondence from CCAN to Vancouver City Manager Sadhu Johnston dated June 7, 2016, asking for the legal basis for his advice to City  Council justifying the voiding of the May 24, 2016, Public Hearing. This was after an unprecedented walk-out of four Councillors in protest of the Chair’s handling of the meeting. It is crucial for the public to receive a full written explanation of the legal basis for voiding the Public Hearing. The implications and precedents are far-reaching. On what legal basis did recommend that the May 24 hearing be voided, and a completely new Public Hearing held (scheduled for June 23, 2016)? What options were considered? Who was involved in the internal consultation? Were any elected officials consulted on this, and if so, who? Why not just resume with the same Councillors present? The rezoning in question is a controversial application by Cressey Developments at 18th and Commercial in Vancouver, which CCAN says violates many principles and policies of the City of Vancouver. Original text is here.

Dear Mr. Johnston

We are sending this as an open letter.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to our concerns. We are the Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours (CCAN). We are contacting you about Council’s decision at a Council meeting on May 31, 2016 to void Item # 3 on the agenda for the May 24, 2016 Public Hearing for the proposed rezoning of 3365 Commercial and 1695, 1707, 1733 and 1775 East 18thAvenue.

We are hereby requesting the complete text of the legal opinion which led City staff to recommend voiding the meeting of May 24, 2016, Agenda Item # 3 instead of re-convening that meeting with the Council members who attended the May 24 meeting. Did City Council have the choice to reconvene this meeting if they chose to? If they did have the choice, then why did they choose not to do so? Council’s decision to hold a new public hearing is a burden, an unnecessary inconvenience and frankly a slap in the face to the members of this community.

City of Vancouver Information Bulletin June 1, 2016 says, “Written comments received to date will be retained and forwarded to the new Public Hearing. Because Item 3 of the May 24th Public Hearing has been voided, persons who spoke on May 24th, who wish to have their views considered by Council will need to speak again at the new Public Hearing, and new speakers can also be heard.” The written comments will be retained and forwarded, why will the speakers’ comments not also be forwarded? We believe they should be forwarded.

It appears to be questionable if the cancellation of the public hearing was in compliance with the city’s Procedure Bylaw or with Roberts Rules of Order.

Please tell us specifically what policies and rationale you based your decision on to cancel the May 24, 2016 Public Hearing.

We are also very concerned that the discussion to void the May 24 public hearing was not listed on the agenda for the May 31, 2016 Council meeting. Members of our neighbourhood were not given the opportunity to contact Council to give them input before this decision was made. The City says they are very dedicated to having community involvement but if you don’t let the neighbourhood know what you are doing it is impossible for them to have input. This is all a very disappointing turn of events.

Please do keep us updated on this proposal. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

The Communications group
On behalf of the members of CCAN
(Cedar Cottage Area Neighbours)

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