A neighbour got this at his door today.  Looks like the realtors got a whiff of an injured neighbourhood.  Can it be that they, like the speculators figure they had our unique little spot of affordable housing all tied up, in a neat little gift, offered up by our trusted leaders as a sacrifice to the moneyed and influential folk in Abbotsford?

Clearly the motley trailer dwelling low-lifes never factored in Council and Planning Dept. deliberations.  A mere ten days notice is good enough for that riff-raff to get wind of the big plans we have for them.

Some nice ‘affordable housing‘ there boys.  ‘Easy pickins’.  Just got to get a fast by-law amendment jammed through, before anyone living there gets wind of what we’re licking our chops over.

I’ve never met Dave Andrews, and he really might be a sterling sort of chap, but I sincerely hope that as he peddles his trade in my neighbourhood, he has enough integrity to let people know that if they sell here, they will be hard pressed to find anywhere from Lions Bay to Hope,….anything to compare with the lovely properties we currently own here.

Realtors and speculators are engaged in legal activity, to be sure.   But this is a shabby business our trusted leaders are involved in.  Our community should have been consulted, given information, given TIME to ponder and prepare for the removal of our Land Use Contracts by the final year of 2024.

Now we see a rush to remove an LUC – piecemeal – a move that I believe will unleash a flood of similar requests from people who bought, not to live here, but to push for a re-zoning that will radically alter our neighbourhood.

City Hall needs to stop and study this unique oasis of 159 homes, not let land-use speculators drive their decision making process.

We had a Public ‘Hearing’.  We spoke, in fact the majority pleaded with Council, not to grant the applicant’s request…….Was there anyone high up above us, on that lofty platform,……. listening?

Lest you think I’m kind of over-reacting,…..bear with a bit more background.  Council was poised to approve this by-law amendment on July 25th.  The earliest notice anyone here got was a postcard in the mail on July 14th, and some even later.  Many of the neighbours were away,…..it was after all summer vacation time.  There was no re-zoning sign on the subject property.  Please look at a calendar, and note that four of those days are week-ends when no city staff are available.

We managed with so precious little time to meet one another and talk and contact city staff, and write emails and make phone calls.  But it was a ridiculous, insulting and disdainful amount of time for our community to realize what Council planned to do.

They had to cancel the first hearing because it was illegal.  We asked staff this,…..’If the Public Hearing had not been stopped, on that very day, and if, as was expected the Mayor and Council had voted to approve the application,……..then if later on it was made known to Council that their vote was on a flawed application, one that was out of compliance with their own rules,………..then, would that decision been rendered null and void?  And the answer from staff was “NO“.  That decision would have remained. The applicant would be approved to rip out the mobile, first removal of LUC in 44 years, and replace it with a large (3 – storey is what staff told us) house and suite.

So that is the kind of slip-shod leadership that runs Abbotsford. Apparently they can be sloppy, make serious mistakes, and there is no recourse for the public.  Upon further inquiry, the staff said our only option as a community would have been to get legal advice.

Hhmmm. That is not likely to happen.  I’ve met a few neighbours, who bought because it was all they could afford.  They love it here, want to remain for a long time,  but are afraid that property taxes will rise if large houses replace mobiles, forcing them to sell because they just manage to make ends meet now.

There is little need for City Hall to do what is right, because people here don’t earn enough to think of suing anyone.  Why would anyone want to sue their own city council anyway?  Government is impervious, protected, shielded from the consequences of their decisions.  Citizens pay out of their own pocket to hire lawyers while the city pays out of those same pockets to pay their lawyers.   A lose, lose all the way for beleaguered citizens.

MLA Darryl Plecas understands that the ten-day minimum number of days required for a local government to notify affected residents of an upcoming Public Hearing is inadequate, and assured us that he would bring this up with Peter Fassbender.

Darryl thinks the minimum should be raised from ten to thirty days. Our properties, for most ordinary people, is our biggest financial investment, so that should be the absolute MINIMUM period of time to give people notice. Enough to allow them a fair chance at engaging in a discussion about the impact of proposed zoning changes.

Having a Mayor and Council be something more substantial than automatons, rubber-stamping staff recommendations would be an improvement too.

 

 

unnamed-12

CORRECTION:  City Hall just told me Sept. 26 Regular meeting is cancelled to allow Mayor and Councillors to attend the UBCM.  So the decision on the K.K. Gill proposed by-law change will happen October 3/16, at 7 PM.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Gerda Peachey <gerdapeachey@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 1:50 PM
Subject: Mr. Fassbender: You have to step in to Abbotsford Municipal Affairs and stop this flawed Hearing, before Council renders a decision on Monday.
To: peter.fassbender.mla@leg.bc.ca, “systems@ombudsman.bc.ca” <systems@ombudsman.bc.ca>, Darryl <Darryl.Plecas.MLA@leg.bc.ca>, “deJong.MLA, Mike” <Mike.deJong.MLA@leg.bc.ca>, “Gibson.MLA, Simon” <simon.gibson.mla@leg.bc.ca>, Darren Braun <dbraun@abbotsford.ca>, Nick Crosman <ncrosman@abbotsford.ca>, George Murray <gmurray@abbotsford.ca>

Mr. Fassbender, a few women, and I, met with MLA Darryl Plecas this week. He assured us that he would contact you about the guidelines that you at the Province have set, as the ten minimum number of days required of local governments, to give notice of a Public Hearing, is woefully inadequate.

However you, at the Legislature will take months before getting that corrected.  Meanwhile, this Monday our Mayor and Council will vote on a by-law amendment that might have some negative ramifications for my community of 159 mobile homes, on our own land. For this imminent decision, the Council has shown a deeply troubling lack of comprehension, or indifference as to conducting a proper Public Hearing.

Bylaw No. 2552-2016 to consider the discharge of Land Use Contract No.13, has been rife with error.  Virtually zero consultation or information given to the affected community.  Upon having to cancel the first date of July 25th, our thwarted Council seems bent on their intent to grant a precedent setting application, one that is great for land-use speculators, but possibly fraught with harm to people who’ve lived here for many years.  People  trust the land they bought has a defined zoning.  The tax-paying public should not have to worry that their public servants would make vital changes, without first considering current owners and providing plenty of information, and opportunity, and time to engage in zoning changes that impact their lives.

The first Hearing was sprung on us, with, virtually no notice.  I got a postcard in the mail July 14th for a 25th Hearing.  I’m one of few people who seems to have even heard about Bill 17, before this.  So I did anticipate that our Council would begin discussing what our zoning would be,…… in about 2020, with the year 2022 set as the time for a new face on Abbotsford’s unique LUCs.

No one prepared my community for a move to take out a mobile and replace it with a large house and suite, with the distinct possibility of many landlord/speculators to rapidly follow with proposals to also remove their LUC’s and build large houses, and suites.  The reality here is the large houses frequently have multiple suites, though zoning does not allow for that.  We have not seen the moral courage necessary, at City Hall to deal effectively with the burgeoning growth of large houses doing a robust business in rental income from multiple illegal suites.

It was a ridiculously brief window to prepare. (ICBC notifies us about our car insurance coming due several months in advance of expiry). Neighbours got together, phoned staff and visited the Planning Department, trying to understand what this Hearing meant.  And staff there have been helpful.  They seemed somewhat surprised that real people lived in ‘trailers’.  And we have additions, and carports and real roofs and beautiful gardens, and care about clean neat properties.  Wow, what a discovery.

The first Hearing got cancelled because no re-zoning sign had been put on the subject property.  Then Council took their summer holiday, for longer than ten days.  Its reasonable to expect that now that staff knew of so much opposition to the K.K. Gill proposal, they would take a fresh look at our entire community, but,…the planning department made no change at all to the first recommendations, and merely flipped the whole thing to the very next opportunity for 1st and 2nd Reading, to be followed two weeks from that for another hearing date, of Sept. 12/16.

We told City Hall by phone and email that the newly-planted sign did not add the mandatory sticker notifying the public of place, date and time of the Public Hearing.  That should, according to the City’s rules have been done after August 29th readings.  For photographs of two signs, (on the Sept. 12th Hearing agenda) and a picture of what the City requires, see here.

When asked about that out of compliance sign on the 12th, Mayor Braun brushed it aside, as if it had no consequence at all. If you have a lot of time to spare you can see this at the end of the long Hearing,…………….here.

A neighbour was told not to worry because our properties will be ‘grandfathered‘, though our area drops to the underlying zoning, one that staff sort of painted over a map of our city in 2014.    Assessments, hence taxes, will rise as large houses replace mobiles.  Even worse, Rs3 does not permit trailers/modulars.  I have twice asked for this to be clearly spelled out and written down by folk in authority at City Hall, because all grandfathers die sometime.  Staff has not provided any clarification to me or anyone else that I know of.  That vital data was not given, but staff recommended approval of the developer’s application, regardless of vital questions going unanswered..  No one that I know of has a scrap of paper to back up the assurance that current owners are ‘safe’ here.  So the very real possibility exists that in the event of the loss of our present homes, no option exists, but to build a ‘stick’ home, something our mobile home insurance would not cover. Such a structure is out of reach for most lower-income folk who live here, or those who would love to buy these last remnants of affordable housing, if speculators weren’t zooming ahead of them with cash on the barrelhead, and plans to get re-zoning approval from Council.

So,….. effectively, our City Council will have stolen our properties to favour wealthy land-use speculators, moving more of the shrinking affordable housing out of reach, even for people who currently own it.

Some women gathered 106 signatures on a petition and many people sent letters to Council, opposing this sudden move, of granting a piecemeal exemption that will certainly be followed by others, before the thoughtful study that the Planning Department has told us they were going to start on this fall.  It is to be hoped that their planning, planned to include all of us.  But now, here today, there is this hurried attempt to circumvent a sensible, serious consideration as to what sort of zoning is best for our entire community.

Besides the petition and the many letters, 22 people came to the microphone at the Monday to oppose the application, only 2 of whom live in another part of town, but spoke to the bigger BC impact. The overall appeal was for more time and for a special zoning suited for this unique community, a zoning that would continue to provide a pocket of affordable housing, which is why most people bought and set down roots here.

Eight speakers were in favour of allowing 2090 Oakridge Cr. to be the first in 44 years to build a ‘stick’ house here. Only two of them live here, others are landlords.  But contrary to what is required at a public hearing, Mayor Braun allowed two people to speak in favour of the applicant without providing an address. In fact one woman who spoke several times, did not even give her last name, or an address.

The applicant’s name is K.K. Gill, her husband Jagjit Gill said he was the owner,  In one of his times at the mic, Mr. Gill invoked BC Finance Minister, Mike de Jong in support of his application, with the further offering that MLA de Jong had introduced the removal of LUCs in the Legislature in 2014, and that he had got it approved.  The Hansard does not go into those details, so maybe that is a portrayal of what went on behind the scenes, in Victoria,  but Mr. de Jong was certainly there, and voted in favour of Bill 17, the innocuous sounding ‘Miscellaneous’ Bill that will, from here to the year 2024, have tremendous power for upheaval of land ownership in all of BC.

Mike has been involved in buying up real estate for quite a few years, but for the purpose of this matter before us, in Abbotsford,  it is his ownership of properties in this neighbourhood that must be transparent.  And not only this MLA.  How many people who make the laws, have insider information and the power to spring hearings about by-law amendments that may favour themselves?

Politicians can freely engage in land speculation, but there must be no question about the integrity of land-use changes.  You can’t allow shoddy, rushed and murky changes that might favour speculators.  But our Council did rush at us, without adequate advance notice, without prior consultation, without proper signage, and before the Planning Department can do a thoughtful study of the 159 properties, to see what is best for all of us.  It feels like the majority are irrelevant.

All those missing pieces make it crucial that we know there is no influence peddling going on from wealthy, powerful government officials.

One of the men who said he wanted the LUC removal, indicated that he was a ‘silent, third party owner’ of a property here.  But he gave no address, and the Chair did not ask for one.  According to ‘The Tyee’, …Minister de Jong has a one-third interest on Oakridge Crescent.  There may be no connection, and it isn’t illegal if Mike still does own here. But the slip-shod, error-filled and rushed attempt to give away the first property to people who bought on speculation of getting a by-law rezoning, makes it imperative that this Public Hearing be shut down, now.  Do not let this flawed and possibly corrupted process move on to it’s finish next Monday,  regardless of what decision this Council might favour.

If Mayor and Council are allowed to sit down at their table on Monday evening and vote on 2090 Oakridge, the whole pretence of honesty, transparency and wisdom is gone.

Mr. Fassbender, we’ve met with MLA Darryl Plecas, who understands what we are saying about ten days advance notice being too little time.  He sees our point.  Until the Province gives a new and better guideline there must be a freeze on all LUC discharge applications.  Local governments cannot be allowed to go on yanking the ground out from beneath the feet of trusting folk, with 10,…….or less days to figure out if the thing they’ve just heard about is good or bad for them.

The BC Ombudsman’s office has opened a file based on both the serious possibility of a conflict of interest, and the flawed process that brought us to this point.

You have the power to stop this flawed and possibly corrupted Public Hearing immediately, until our Mayor and Council wake up and get it right. Their citizens have a right to expect Council will ensure all decisions are based on the democratic ideals of justice, truth, fairness, wisdom, …… not just be puppets for land-use developers in a hurry to get their hands on property they desire.

Please let us know what you plan to do.

Thank you,

Gerda Peachey

On Tuesday evening, at 7 PM, there were no clouds in the Western sky,……except this one, as seen from Mouat Secondary.

I’ve never seen a stand alone cloud like this before, and hope someone can explain this amazing phenomenon.  And besides explaining it, hopefully someone got better photographs.  It was very beautiful.

img_6020

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Gerda Peachey <gerdapeachey@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 5:04 AM
Subject: Termination of Land Use Contracts in BC, and possible conflict of interest concerning our Minister of Finance.
To: peter.fassbender.mla@leg.bc.ca, “deJong.MLA, Mike” <Mike.deJong.MLA@leg.bc.ca>, Darryl <Darryl.Plecas.MLA@leg.bc.ca>, premier <premier@gov.bc.ca>, Henry Braun <hbraun@abbotsford.ca>

Hello Mr. Fassbender:

Re:  CONFLICT OF INTEREST question on termination of Land Use Contract in Abbotsford:

I believe you are the Minister in charge of Municipal Affairs. There is some urgency to this request for your help, and I’m not entirely certain who, in the Provincial Government ultimately will step in for us, so will send this to the Ombudsman’s Office, as well as to the Premier, and Minister of Finance, Mike de Jong, as well as my neighbours.

There is a possible conflict of interest in the proposed discharge of a Land Use Contract before our Council, and it has ramifications far beyond the one proposal now being considered in our city.  BC has some 2,400 LUCs to be discharged within some 92 local government jurisdictions.  Given the involvement of elected officials in land speculation, Bill 17 has the potential for insider manipulation of much valuable real estate.

I’m asking you to stop the deliberations currently under way in Abbotsford,  before Council returns to render a decision on Sept. 26/16 because the process up to and including Monday’s Hearing has been rife with error and disregard for the public good.

Last week I asked my MLA, Darryl Plecas to forward my request, to the minister overseeing municipalities, so maybe that has found it’s way to you by now.

The whole business of discharging Land Use Contracts has potential for enormous wealth generation for land-use speculators, and in this case directly involves the Minister of Finance, Mike de Jong.

In May of 2014 the question of bringing all of the LUCs in BC to an end by 2024 was introduced in the Legislature under the innocuous title of ‘MISCELLANEOUS STATUTES AMENDMENT ACT 2014.

Both you and MLA de Jong were present there:   https://www.leg.bc.ca/documents-data/debate-transcripts/40th-parliament/2nd-session/20140428pm-Hansard-v11n2#3184

This Bill can be seen as a good thing, or a very bad thing, and that view may vary radically depending on how property owners are affected, or how land-use speculators may profit from the Bill.  But for certain, this is not a matter that should have been slipped in with so little consultation with British Columbians, thrown in ‘miscellaneous‘, as if it were some minor house-keeping item.

Many elected officials engage in the lucrative real estate market, MLA de Jong being one of them, and there is nothing illegal in that.  But when you in government write the legislation, and you also engage in the market directly impacted by your legislation, there must be a very high degree of transparency and integrity in all your business transactions.

Some years ago Mike wanted to buy the home next door to ours, but that neighbour decided to stay awhile longer.  Mike was, and perhaps still is part owner in at least one property here,……

 

 From ‘The Tyee’ regarding MLA de Jong: …… “He also holds a one-third interest in a $259,500 house on Oakridge Crescent, a half interest in an $86,500 condo on George Ferguson Way, and a one-third interest in two condos on Gladwin Road. The Gladwin Road addresses listed on de Jong’s disclosure statement do not appear in the BC Assessment database, nor could an assessment authority official reached by phone find them.”  http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/01/11/Finance-Minister-Well-Invested/

The applicant to remove the 44 year old LUC from the property he bought last March specifically references MLA de Jong.  Jagjit Gill makes a point of saying, his application is supported by the MLA, “Also Mike de Jong introduced this Bill in Victoria in 2014, and got it approved.”  I don’t know how accurate Mr Gill is here, because the proceedings (below) don’t indicate that direct action,  but Minister de Jong certainly was present, and added his “Aye” to Bill 17.

Bill 17 made the year 2024 the sunset for termination of all LUCs in the Province, with 2022 as the target for local governments to make wise changes on any of those within their jurisdiction.

VERY FEW PEOPLE had ever heard about Bill 17 at all. Out of the blue, with no consultation, no heads-up, no warning, my community was given a few days notice about an impending Public Hearing, set for July 25th. K. K. Gill applied for the discharge of her LUC, and wants to replace the existing mobile with a large house and suite, necessitating a by-law amendment.   We know there are landlord speculators waiting, who will follow with applications to also build large houses in this unique community set up in the early 1970’s, for only mobile/modular homes.

City Hall says this is consistent with their revised OCP, and with their Affordable Housing Strategy 2011. This is patently absurd.  Large new houses with suites are not built with altruism in mind. I’ve known plenty of people living in both legal and illegal suites. Landlords get as much as the market will bear.  Driving out low income owners with higher taxation and dubious new zoning will effectively REMOVE EXISTING AFFORDABLE HOUSING, from current property owners.  That contradicts the number one mandate to retain current affordable housing.

At an Official Community Plan open house, a man specifically asked Abbotsford City staff how their plans would affect our neighbourhood, and the answer was that, since we were under the Provincial LUC, we did not need to worry about the new OCP ‘vision’ for Abbotsford.

Yet strangely, and almost silently, that protective LUC is now in question, and the hearing came with no warning. Something we were told was eight or six years down the road, was sprung on us in the middle of summer vacation time, in 2016.  Days, not years!

Granting the first release in 44 years, will certainly be followed by people who’ve been snapping up this last bit of affordable housing, and renting out those properties, (knowing, as it turns out that the City was going to grant termination of LUCs piecemeal), and thereby fracturing this unique oasis where people still had a hope of owning a home.

This community should have been in consultation with City Hall for a year before any such exception was even considered.  City Planner Darren Braun says our community is up for study some time this fall.  But suddenly our Council seems bent on quickly approving individual developers. Before any careful consideration was done, the planning dept. painted us with an underlying RS3 zoning to come into effect once the LUC goes.  That presents some troubling questions for those who bought to live here.  Large houses will raise taxes on surrounding properties, and completely change the character of our unique neighbourhood. Deeply disturbing is the matter of RS3, which DOES NOT ALLOW FOR MOBILE/MODULAR HOMES in the event the original must be replaced.

I specifically asked the City to give me in writing what protection owners have, in the event of a fire, or other disaster, but no answer was given, and the Hearing came and went.  One woman was told we would be “grandfathered“, but nothing was given to her in writing.  A landlord, who only recently bought here demanded more ‘densification’.  For speculators this is an enormously profitable bit of Abbotsford just now, and they want to get their hands on it fast.

Mayor and Council deferred their decision till the 26th because the majority at the Hearing opposed the By-law amendment.  NOTABLY they did not refer the matter back to staff, something they normally would do. This should have gone back to staff in light of the many suggestions for City Hall to seriously study our community, before approving a precedent setting application that can drastically change our community.  That has to be undertaken with utmost care and study, not swiftly to please people who bought on speculation.

You, our elected officials brought in a Bill with enormous potential to alter our lives, and you did it with little fanfare.  Many of you are actively involved in the buying and selling of land.  I see very little in the way of protection for the public when you decree that TEN DAYS is sufficient to give time for local governments to give notice of a Public Hearing.

Abbotsford does not even think ten days is necessary.  Just drop some postcards in the mail and if they arrive 10, 8, 6, 3, 0 days before a Public Hearing,…….oh well.

Further, Mayor Braun does not think it important to follow the meagre steps mandated within the notice requirements on Abbotsford books.   Two properties were on the Agenda Monday Sept. 12th for removal of LUCs.  Neither of these two complied with the sign rules, stipulating that upon the granting of a Public Hearing, the large re-zoning sign had to have stickers added notifying the neighbourhood of the impending Hearing, the LOCATION, DATE AND TIME of that Public Hearing.

On my way to City Hall, Monday evening,  I took photographs of both those signs.  Two men were on Windsor St., so I asked them if they were going to their Hearing, (in the next half hour).  The one fellow lived right near the subject property, which was applying to have a legal suite, already having an illegal suite, that the neighbourhood had reported.  The fellow said to me, “What Hearing?”   We were standing a few yards across from the sign.  Nothing on that sign told neighbours about a Hearing, happening that night.

Yet when questioned about those missing stickers by a man, at the end of our Public Hearing,…..Mayor Braun replied with a dismissive, “I think the fact that everybody is here tonight tells me that the neighbourhood is well aware of what is happening there.”

IN FACT,……NO ONE from the Windsor area spoke, probably because they were not aware of what was happening at City Hall that night, and were not there.

As to our issue of Oakridge proposal, it was no thanks at all to City Hall that we even had a chance to hear about this, or gather our wits about us. The first hearing was cancelled when we realized it was illegal.  What followed for the 2nd run was not a thoughtful revamping of the proposal, given the public concern.  The Planning department and Council merely re-set  the Hearing date, with no alterations based on the outcry from our neighbourhood.  We just did not count,……only the developer seemed to matter.

So what we have seen is a Council that says, if a Public Hearing requires steps A, B, C, and D to be followed, (so the public can be informed and engaged in matters important to their interests,)……why if we just do steps A and D, and maybe part of B,…………..good enough!     http://civic.neulion.com/cityofabbotsford/

Many British Columbians will feel the impact of Bill 17, whether for good or bad.  The implementation of these terminations must be of a sterling, transparent nature.  The situation here in Abbotsford has been sloppy with no consultation in advance, and an apparent disdain for the majority. We oppose granting piecemeal exemptions to people who bought on speculation of getting the LUCs removed.

Several women went to the community and got a lot of signatures on petitions. Not everyone can come to a Hearing, and others can’t  bear the thought of public speaking.  Still 22 people did speak to oppose this, despite that being so hard for them to do.

The situation here has more than a hint that rapid approval of this LUC termination is the goal of Council.  That may enrich wealthy speculators, while causing a burden on the majority of property owners.  Therefore, the possible influence of Mike de Jong, a powerful minister of the Provincial government must be taken seriously. The dismissive, cavalier attitude exhibited by Mayor Braun at the Sept. 12th Hearing inspires little confidence in the process being genuine, or just.

 

From Stewart McDannold Stuart – Barristers & Solicitors

 

  • Section 914(1) is amended to state to that compensation is not payable for any loss or damages that result from the termination of a land use contract, whether by operation of section 914.1, or as a result of a bylaw adopted under section 914.2.
  • Section 930, the current provision dealing with the modification, variance or discharge of land use contracts, remains in place for the time being.

In terms of the obligation to ensure that zoning will be in place upon the termination of a land use contract, local governments should consider whether existing developments should be allowed to continue as lawful uses under the terms of the zoning bylaw, once the land use contract terminates, or whether upon the termination of the land use contract, it is more desirable from a planning perspective for the existing use to become lawfully non-conforming.

Mr. Fassbender, what does this mean,….. Section 914(1) is amended to state to that compensation is not payable for any loss or damages that result from the termination of a land use contract, whether by operation of section 914.1, or as a result of a bylaw adopted under section 914.2. …….And should such complex, and possibly harmful effects of Bill 17 not be made a part of serious communication and consultation with everyone affected by the termination of land use contracts that people bought in good faith, and trust in the governing authorities?  Maybe its not anything ominous at all, but I sure don’t know.

 

From the BC Legislature, May of 2014 

The Chair: Take a short recess, and prepare for section 27.

The committee recessed from 3:50 p.m. to 3:52 p.m.

[D. Horne in the chair.]

On section 27.

[ Page 3174 ]

 

On section 30.

S. Robinson: Section 30 speaks to removing the ability for the minister to establish policy around official community plans. Once again, I’d like to hear from the minister about what initiated this policy.

Hon. C. Oakes: This is just a consequential amendment, as the new policy guidelines are now in under a new section, 873.2, of this proposed bill.

Section 30 approved.

On section 31.

S. Robinson: Then I’ll ask the question here, because I was guessing that it was consequential but thought I would ask at the first opportunity. I’m curious again, or still, about the minister removing the authority around policy guidelines. Was there a specific issue that arose that resulted in this change?

[1555] Jump to this time in the webcast

 

Hon. C. Oakes: It actually doesn’t eliminate the requirement for legislation. It’s just that it’s been moved into a different section number.

S. Robinson: I just want to make sure that I understand. There’s the addition of two sections here in section 31. It provides the minister with “authority to establish policy guidelines regarding process in respect of specified amendments, plans, permits and bylaws.” I’m assuming that there was some consultation, but I’d like to know from the minister if there were particular issues that were arising that resulted in this change.

Hon. C. Oakes: Consultation has happened with UBCM and local governments around this, again, as it pertains to the removal of the bylaw requirement previous, but it continues to establish the policy guidelines in this. It’s moved, but the requirement is still there. It’s just moved to a different section.

V. Huntington: What initiated these changes? Could you describe what the earlier situation was — as opposed to setting up policy guidelines regarding process; I thought the process was pretty well established — and what the changes are requiring policy guidelines for content and why that appears to be necessary?

If I could add: who initiated these changes — local government, UBCM or the ministry?

Hon. C. Oakes: Again, this has been with consultation — a request from the UBCM and the local governments to look at that to increase efficiencies.

One thing has been ongoing. There has been, over the past ten years, a pilot project with regional districts. That has really looked at how we can support local government, specifically regional districts, to reduce the number of bylaws affected for ministerial approval.

As a result of the pilot project, approximately half of the regional districts in the province have been exempted already from the approval requirement to date under the pilot project. It’s effectively reduced the requirement of approvals by 80 percent, from many hundreds of bylaws annually to less than 100 for several years, with no demonstrated impact on provincial interest and with a gain in the development of efficiencies for local government.

A pilot project has been in place for ten years. This is just looking at the rest of the folks that weren’t covered under that pilot project, to implement that.

[1600] Jump to this time in the webcast

 

Really, why we are getting out of this approval role is that the ministerial approval process occurs after the substantive work has already been developed by the bylaw — which has been done by the regional district after a public hearing has been held and near the end of the bylaw adoption process.

By setting up these policy guidelines, what in fact we are doing is starting those conversations much earlier with local governments, looking at where provincial interests come into play and ensuring that that process happens more at the front end than after the substantive work has been done through the bylaws.

V. Huntington: Could I ask the minister whether the bylaws in the regional district…? Will they or can they then apply to agricultural lands? Will you be developing policy guidelines for regional district bylaws as they apply to agricultural lands?

[ Page 3175 ]

 

Hon. C. Oakes: This will only be applying to official community plans, zoning bylaws, subdivision servicing bylaws, temporary use permit bylaws and land use contracts. The question that you have…. When it looks like ALR land, it would have to go through the Ministry of Agriculture. It wouldn’t come through this process.

Sections 31 and 32 approved.

On section 33.

S. Robinson: I know that this, in all likelihood, is a result of section 40, but I’m going to ask here anyway, because it’s the first time it comes up.

[R. Chouhan in the chair.]

 

Section 33 removes the requirement for the minister to approve regional district bylaws, which is consequential, of course, to section 40. I just want to confirm that this is what the minister had answered to the other member who’s been very curious about these changes.

Hon. C. Oakes: Yes. Again, it’s just that the amendments will help streamline the approval process.

Sections 33 to 40 inclusive approved.

On section 41.

V. Huntington: With regard to section 40, do I understand here that boards no longer have to bring the zoning bylaws or subdivision servicing bylaws to the minister for approval? Is the intent, then, to take the power to approve zoning bylaws out of the hands of the minister entirely but allow non-binding guidelines to be put in place instead? Is that the intent of this section?

Hon. C. Oakes: This section removes the requirement for minister’s approval of regional district zoning and subdivision servicing bylaws. However, it enacts policy guidelines that ensure that the provincial interests are still in place, so you still have to go through the Ministry of Environment or the various ministries as we outlined earlier in the process.

[1605] Jump to this time in the webcast

 

V. Huntington: Is there any individual within the ministry that will be monitoring the development and approval of these bylaws at the regional district level in order to ensure that they are going through the proper processes?

Is anybody left to monitor them? The inspector of municipalities? Any function at all?

Hon. C. Oakes: What we found in the pilot process — and it’s been very successful — is that staff that have been involved with monitoring that and involved with the process of implementing the bylaws will continue through our ministry to be engaged in that process. What it means, what we’re suggesting, is that that work…. What has happened in the pilots is that those conversations happened before they got into the final approval stages, so it’s earlier on in the process.

That is what has been happening in the pilot project over the last ten years. They found that having conversations with the ministry early on in the development of those bylaws has been far more successful than leaving it and having those guidelines in place to ensure that provincial interests are included in that, as opposed to waiting longer down the road when bylaws are actually getting implemented in those readings. This has been far more successful, as the pilot has demonstrated.

V. Huntington: Has the inspector of municipalities had any role to play at all in the development of regional district OCPs, bylaws, etc., and is there any continued role for the inspector if he has had a role previously?

Hon. C. Oakes: The staff in the planning branch will continue to engage on this, but the director of municipalities did not have a role around regional districts in this process and will not in the future. But on the planning, the ministry has planning staff that will continue to engage and support the work around bylaws.

V. Huntington: Just for my own edification, did we rush through the adoption of section 42, or may I still ask questions?

The Chair: It’s available.

V. Huntington: Thank you very much.

Does the termination of land use contracts refer specifically to those contracts for regional districts, or is this strictly within the municipal sphere at this point?

The Chair: Let’s go back to…. Let me just confirm and make sure we are on the record properly.

Sections 40 and 41 approved.

On section 42.

S. Robinson: I had the pleasure of having to deal with a land use contract in my municipality, so it’s very interesting to see this come forward. I’m curious about how many land use contracts exist in the province and how many municipalities will be affected by these changes.

Hon. C. Oakes: There are approximately 2,400 land use contracts in the province and 92 local governments.

[ Page 3176 ]

 

[1610] Jump to this time in the webcast

 

S. Robinson: I didn’t hear the number of municipalities. If the minister could just repeat the number of municipalities, that would be great.

Hon. C. Oakes: Well, it’s not just municipalities, local governments, because this was set up in the 1970s. Local governments affected are 92.

S. Robinson: This is a huge change affecting a lot of contracts and a lot of local governments, and I’d like to hear what the minister’s plans are for contacting all of the local governments and making sure that they understand what the implications are of these changes and the ability to phase out these land use contracts.

Hon. C. Oakes: First, I should talk about where we have gotten there. In the consultation process with municipalities, we have been consulting those communities that have the highest number of land use contracts. For example, Surrey has 321 land use contracts. Richmond has 163. Whistler has nine. Prince George has 170. Kelowna has 82. Langley has 65.

There has been a working group on land use contracts. This has been ongoing work that we’ve done with UBCM and a lot of different other agencies that said that, you know, the 1970s…. What was put in place really isn’t effective use now on things that, when we’re looking at trying to have smart growth and we’re trying to do things with communities to encourage those kinds of principles, perhaps weren’t necessarily in place in the 1970s.

The next steps that we will be doing…. First of all, it’s a ten-year process that we have put in place so that there will be tools and support for local governments to help get them through these land use contracts. There is a process for local governments if they want to fast-track the termination of these land use contracts for those. For example, if you’re close to a SkyTrain terminal, you may want to look at your land use contracts so that it matches up with your official community plan.

There is a process with public hearings and mailing to the landowners, so there will be that process in place. We’ve made sure that we will be working with UBCM. We’ll be working with area associations and groups that will be affected with this to help support them and the administrators to make sure that that is in place.

The other thing that was really important…. There were a few communities that we looked at that are really small. One of the things that I said is that I didn’t want, necessarily, to put a really small community on challenge of having to go and do their OCP again, to make sure that we are preparing for that. So if there is a local government out there that is challenged by having to go through an OCP update when they move forward on the land use contracts, we have the support within our ministry to help those local governments. We tried to look at the long-term — kind of a holistic approach of where the land use contracts are and put in place a process to help support local governments on phasing those out.

V. Huntington: I’m curious. Has the ministry been approached by municipalities to engage in this type of ten-year termination process? I know my municipality has been terminating land use contracts by the dozens, and there’s certainly been no process that I’m aware of in terms of public hearing. What are the implications of these terminations, and is there any retroactivity back? What can the public expect to see handled differently as a result of the termination of them? I’ve just had some people indicate to me that they’re very concerned about the implications of this, and I just wondered what the minister could tell us in that regard.

[1615] Jump to this time in the webcast

 

Hon. C. Oakes: How we got here on the land use contracts…. There were several resolutions passed over the years by the Union of B.C. Municipalities for us to look at that. The question of why we’re looking at the termination of the land use contracts over ten years….

One of the things we felt was that we needed to provide adequate time for those folks that have those contracts to prepare to go through that process, as well as for communities to prepare to make those, to allow the application of modern land use regulation tools across communities in the region, provide greater certainty and transparency for neighbourhoods and remove the longstanding barrier that’s really prevented municipalities and regional districts from planning their communities effectively.

A lot of the things that we saw when we did the research…. You would have an official community plan. It was well planned out around transit areas. Then you’d have land use contracts, a few of them, and they, of course, don’t fit into the official community plan.

It’s great that some communities have decided to move forward on the land use contracts just so that they match the official community plan. There is no retroactive tool in order to say: “Well, this is the zoning process that you now have to follow.”

What we’re really looking at are those 2,400 land use contracts that are out there in the province…. This legislation — really, what it will do is to effectively move so that we’re modernizing our official community plans and making sure that, strategically, municipalities and local governments, regional districts, have the opportunity to really frame what their communities are going to look like.

Sections 42 to 48 inclusive approved.

The Chair: We already have passed 49 to 51.

[ Page 3177 ]

So Mr. Fassbender, I ask that you step in and stop the entire process currently under Council consideration for a vote.  Our staff and Council have sprung this LUC termination on us in an rush, riding roughshod over even their own minimal requirements.   This whole thing needs a fresh start.

Besides the question of whether MLA de Jong owned property here when Bill 17 was passed, there needs to be transparency as to who on our Council, or staff, owns property that will come up for termination under the LUC sunset clause of 2024.

Who in a position of authority stands to benefit from such changes in our community?

We need answers as to why this was sprung on us in 2016 with virtually no warning, no consultation.  We need clear answers as to what ‘grandfathering‘ means, given that the underlying zoning painted under the LUC, in the recent past, DOES NOT ALLOW MODULAR HOMES in the event of the loss of the existing home.  Therefore the City will effectively have ripped the property out of the hands of such an owner, since most people who bought here would not have enough money to build a ‘stick‘ house.  Insurance on a destroyed mobile would be paltry compared to the cost of a new structure, so under such circumstances owners would be FORCED to sell.  And no where in the entire Lower Mainland would that sale price buy another property of equal worth.  So you, the government have enacted a grave new Bill with both positive and negative potential.   But here in Abbotsford that Bill is being implemented in a shoddy and possibly illegal way.

Please step in, before the Mayor and Council’s next meeting, Monday Sept. 26th.  We need you to investigate this business……., to give assurance Bill 17 is not just a tool for people in power, with inside information to gain more wealth, at the expense of the rest of the people you govern.

Gerda Peachey,

Abbotsford.

And paint does take about three hours to dry, as well.

http://civic.neulion.com/cityofabbotsford/

For September 12/16   7 PM

…..Well okay,….They’re not gonna make a big star ‘outa me….at least not yet.

More like, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”  Oh well, sometimes it’s useful to be a Dutchman.  They held back the Spanish Invasion, and they held back the sea, and neither of those battles were resolved in the space of a movie show, so being Dutch has its merits.

We have inherited the dogged determination of our ancestors, aka, “Wooden shoes, wooden head, wouldn’t listen.”  Sometimes that’s a useful trait, especially when people sigh deeply and say, “Oh,….why bother,…….you can’t fight City Hall”, well then your wooden head might come in useful.  You might not be able to absorb that truism. Instead you just put on your wooden shoes and plod on.vintage-dutch-girl-wooden-shoes-sleepy-eyes-doll-0d26c81f517e85052b38ab3e29b5097a

Monday evening Mayor and Council will deliberate the fate of my wonderful community. The good thing is that people are awake now to what has been brewing, and hopefully a good many will come out to the Public Hearing.

But I do feel somewhat anxious because not many of my neighbours are sufficiently block-headed, so don’t think their voice matters enough to sway the Council.  Some of the folk seem to think that it will be enough for a few voices to make reasonable arguments, and that will be all our noble, wise and just leaders need to bring about the right decision.

So a number of people say they’ll be there, but they’ll just listen.

The very serious problem with being ‘the quiet in the land’, is that this Public Hearing is all we have.  After that Hearing portion is over on Monday evening, our ability to engage in the issue is also over.  The question of whether an application to alter our 44 year Land Use Contract, or have City Hall make an entirely new zoning to reflect the historic unique nature of these 150 properties, will be closed.  Mayor and Council will not receive any further calls or letters on that proposal until their vote on it.

Some people have a petition asking Council to designate us with a continued ability to bring in modular homes, and retain this oasis as one of the vanishing bits of of affordable housing.  Retaining affordable housing is embedded in the city’s own goals, but the reality before us on Monday evening is a Council set to give away these properties piecemeal to wealthy speculators.  As in the petition, we need a sensible, across the board zoning when the LUC is removed.  But the LUC does not need to be yanked away with such speed and so  little thought or consultation with people here, to gratify speculators waiting eagerly in the wings.

All of British Columbia should take note of what is happening in Abbotsford, because the sunset clause of the year 2024 looms over all of the other LUCs in the Province.

I sincerely hope they will consider the many people who call this unique community home, as being at least as worthy as the land-use speculator before them, and not allow a precedent that starts a landslide here.

On the question of allowing 2090 Oakridge to pull out the mobile and build a large house and suite, some would suggest it can’t be prevented because of private property rights. But that clearly is not so.  If K.K. Gill had the right to buy here in March knowing the place had an LUC, and simply had the right to march down to City Hall in April to remove that restraint, she would have done so.

The fact that this must first go through a public hearing and a vote of Council is all the proof you need to realize this must not be considered a slam-dunk and rubber stamp of approval.

So I would encourage everyone who cares about this item in particular, and the larger question of how easy it is for Abbotsford Council, (or other municipalities), to alter the ground upon which you’ve built your home, please eat some Dutch licorice, (to lubricate the throat), put on your wooden shoes,…(any hard-toed substitute will have to do), and muster up your courage to come out and speak to Council on Monday, September 12 – 7 PM.

With enough fingers in the dyke, we can hold back a sea of undesirable change.

I just watched my August 29th delegation on the Council archives.  Try to do better than I did, as you can see Mayor Braun thought it was a poor performance.  So evidently I’m not quite ready for the big screen.  A friend sent this info, as she’d tried to watch the archives and wasn’t able to access them:  My (failed) delegation is Regular Council Meeting (evening) Item 4.1.

Good afternoon:    

In April 2016, the City updated its encoder for webstreaming, and in turn this required an update to the video streaming interface on the web.  When you access watching Council meetings online at abbotsford.ca you will be directed to:

http://civic.neulion.com/cityofabbotsford/

You’ll note in the top right corner of the page there is a link in red font to the former interface for meetings held prior to April 19, 2016.

I am assuming you may be trying to access Council meeting videos from an old link you had saved, or a bookmark, which is bringing you to:

http://abbotsford.insinc.com/player_archive.php

Although we had the link in the top corner of the new interface to redirect to older videos, I appreciate you bringing this to our attention, as we have now also added a link to the old interface to direct people to the appropriate page for meetings held after April 19, 2016.

Thank you – please let me know if you have any further questions.
Kind regards,

Katie Karn

Deputy City Clerk (Legislative Services)

Tel. 604-864-5607  Fax: 604-853-1934

 

 

PUBLIC HEARING

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016 AT 7:00 P.M. MATSQUI CENTENNIAL AUDITORIUM

AGENDA

1. BYLAW NO. 2623-2016, cited as “Land Use Contract No. 146, Discharge Bylaw, 2016” 3100-30-20/PRJ16-110 (attached)

  • –  2210 Windsor Street
  • –  applicant – V. Sharma
  • –  if Bylaw No. 2623-2016 is adopted, Land Use Contract No. 146 would be discharged

    from the Certificate of Title of only the subject property and the Urban Residential Zone [(RS3] (from Abbotsford Zoning Bylaw No. 2400-2014) would be applied to the subject land to permit a Secondary Suite on the property.

– Background information: Executive Committee Report No. PDS 114-2016 (attached)

2. BYLAW NO. 2552-2016, cited as “Land Use Contract No. 13, Discharge Bylaw, 2016” 3100-30-20/PRJ16-067 (attached)

  • –  2090 Oakridge Crescent
  • –  applicant – K. K. Gill
  • –  if Bylaw No. 2552-2016 is adopted, Land Use Contract No. 13 would be discharged

    from the Certificate of Title of only the subject land and the Urban Residential Zone [RS3] (from Abbotsford Zoning Bylaw No. 2400-2014) would be applied to the subject land to allow for a traditional single family home to be constructed with a secondary suite.

– Background information: Executive Committee Report No. PDS 069-2016 (attached)