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March 31, 2020 Special Council Meeting: City should NOT proceed with Public Hearings during COVID-19 emergency

This COVID-19 crisis is a difficult time for everyone. The City of Vancouver and Province of B.C. are on emergency status.

CityHallWatch takes the position that no Public Hearings on major developments should be scheduled at this time. That means there should be no “referrals” to Public Hearings. The “referral” is when Council reviews staff documents for a development and officially sets the wheels in motion to move to a Public Hearing very quickly.

But referrals to Public Hearings are exactly what the City’s planning staff are recommending on March 31.

We urge concerned groups and residents to write Mayor and Councillor today urging them NOT to accept the city staff recommendations for “referrals” to Public Hearings while the COVID-19 emergency continues. Links on how to reach Major and Council are here.

Civic reporter Francis Bula tweeted this: “Paul Mochrie, deputy city manager for Vancouver, said they’re looking at moving to virtual public hearings and doing everything they can to keep building approvals going.”

 

While businesses are shut and residents are encouraged to stay home, this is not the time for the municipal government to exploit the emergency situation to dramatically shift how democratic processes work at City Hall. Pushing the Public Hearing forward now would not be acting in good faith. And the planning department pushing for these to go forward would be exhibiting egregious behavior.

The Special Council agenda for Tuesday, March 31, 2020 is copied below. It includes some controversial rezonings, including one for a 28 storey tower at the former Denny’s site on the corner of Birch and Broadway. (Fresh article: Affordable housing does not mean affordable for everyone: City of Vancouver report, by Carlito Pablo, The Straight, on 30-Mar-2020)

Below is an illustration of how quickly City staff intend this to go ahead to Public Hearing, subject to approval of the “referral” recommendation by Mayor and Council.

CoV 31-Mar-2020 referrals lead to Public Hearings

Electronic council meetings may be a useful step for physical distancing, to enable decisions on the most urgent business while the City is under emergency orders. But this situation should not be exploited by the City to set precedents that could continue into more normal times.

For reference, the meeting agenda is reproduced below:

Special Council agenda
March 31, 2020

Date and location

Tuesday, March 31, 2020  9:30 am

Council Chamber, Third Floor, City Hall

Note:

  • This is a Special Council meeting called by the Mayor under Section 14.5 of the Procedure By-law to transact the agenda items set out below.
  • This Special Council meeting is to be convened by electronic means as authorized by Part 14 of the Procedure By-law and the Vancouver Charter.
  • Members of the public may attend at the Council Chamber in City Hall to hear the meeting proceeding, but are strongly urged to listen to the proceedings via the City’s website.
  • Health protocols associated with COVID-19 will be observed for all members of the public and any speakers in attendance.

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Questions about this agenda?

 

ROLL CALL

1. Communication: Changes to 2020 Council Meetings

2. Motion to go In Camera

THAT Council will go into meetings later this week which are closed to the public, pursuant to Section 165.2(1) of the Vancouver Charter, to discuss matters related to paragraph:

(a) personal information about an identifiable individual who holds or is being considered for a position as an officer, employee or agent of the city or another position appointed by the city;

(e) the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the Council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the city;

(i) the receipt of advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose; and

(k) negotiations and related discussions respecting the proposed provision of an activity, work or facility that are at their preliminary stages and that, in the view of the Council, could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the city if they were held in public.

3. Adoption of Minutes of Council

a. Council (City Finance and Services) held on February 26 and March 3, 2020

b. Council held on March 10, 2020

c. Council (Policy and Strategic Priorities) held on March 11 and 12, 2020

d. Special Council (Motion to go In Camera) held on March 19, 2020

e. Special Council (Motion to Declare State of Emergency) held on March 19, 2020

f. Special Council (Motion to Amend Emergency By-law and Ticket Offences By-law and Motion to go In Camera) held on March 23, 2020

4. Downtown Eastside (DTES) Capital Grant Allocation

Recommendation requires two-thirds affirmative votes of all Council members under Section 206(1) of the Vancouver Charter.

5. 2020 Cultural Grants (Operating, Annual Assistance, Projects, Cultural Learning and Sharing)

Recommendations A through F require two-thirds affirmative votes of all Council members under Section 206(1) of the Vancouver Charter.

6. Amendments to Building and Electrical By-laws to adopt revisions to the BC Building Code and Electrical Safety Regulations and miscellaneous changes

7. Annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) Membership Fees for 2020 to 2021

Recommendation requires two-thirds affirmative votes of all Council members under Section 206(1) of the Vancouver Charter.

8. West End Participatory Budgeting Pilot – Grant Approval

Recommendation C requires two-thirds affirmative votes of all Council members under Section 206(1) of the Vancouver Charter.

9. Climate Emergency Requirements for New Housing 3-Storeys and Under

10. Closure and Lease of Portion of Road Adjacent to 3075 Slocan Street

11. Closure and Sale of a Portion of Road Adjacent to 3150 SE Marine Drive

12. Modification of Lease for AIDS Vancouver at 1101 Seymour Street

13. Referral Reports

a. CD-1 Rezoning: 187-195 West 41st Avenue

b. CD-1 Rezoning: 7843 -7845 Cambie Street

c. CD-1 Amendment: 2538 Birch Street (formerly 1296 West Broadway)

d. CD-1 Rezoning: 3220 Cambie Street

14. By-laws Approval

a. A By-law to amend CD-1 (705) By-law No. 12176 for 1500 West Georgia Street
(Councillor Bligh absent from the Public Hearing)

b. A By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to rezone an area to CD-1 regarding 1303 Kingsway and 3728 Clark Drive
(Councillor Hardwick absent from the Public Hearing)

c. A By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to rezone an area to CD-1 regarding 3510 Fraser Street
(All Council members, except Councillor Carr, were absent from the Public Hearing for this item)

d. A By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 regarding Passive House amendments
(Councillor Bligh absent from the Public Hearing)

e. A By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to rezone 6288-6290 Ash Street from RT-1 District to RM-8A District
(Councillors Carr and Hardwick absent for the Public Hearing)

f. A By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to rezone 46-96 West King Edward Avenue from RS-1 District to RM-8AN District
(Councillors De Genova, Hardwick and Kirby-Yung absent for this item at Public Hearing)

g. A By-law to assess real property to defray 2019 maintenance costs for the Trounce Alley and Blood Alley Square Local Improvement Project.

h. A By-law to assess real property to defray 2019 costs for the East Hastings Street Collective Parking Project.

i. A By-law to assess real property to defray 2019 costs for the South Fraser Street Collective Parking Project.

j. A By-law to enact a Housing Agreement for 1800 – 1895 Main Street

k. A By-law to amend Zoning and Development By-law No. 3575 to rezone an area from RS-1 to RM-8AN (188-198 West King Edward Avenue)
(Councillors Fry and Swanson absent from the Public Hearing)

l. A By-law to Average Land Assessments for 2020

15. Administrative Motions

a. Approval of Form of Development – 3338 Sawmill Crescent

b. Approval of Form of Development – 3510 Fraser Street

16. Resolution: Closure and Sale of a Portion of Road Adjacent to 3150 SE Marine Drive

(Subject to approval of item 11)

ADJOURNMENT

* * * * *

Download the agenda

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