Date: Sun, Sep 4, 2016 at 7:40 AM
Subject: Public Hearing for Land Use Contract No. 13, Discharge Bylaw 2016 File No. PRJ16-067 September 12, 2016
To: Henry Braun <hbraun@abbotsford.ca>, George Murray <gmurray@abbotsford.ca>, Nancy Friesen <NFriesen@abbotsford.ca>, Bill Flitton <BFlitton@abbotsford.ca>, Nick Crosman <ncrosman@abbotsford.ca>, Darren Braun <dbraun@abbotsford.ca>, mgill <Mgill@abbotsford.ca>, Brenda Falk <bfalk@abbotsford.ca>, Kelly Chahal <kchahal@abbotsford.ca>, Patricia Ross <Pross@abbotsford.ca>, lbarkman <Lbarkman@abbotsford.ca>, “Dave Loewen (Councillor)” <dfloewen@abbotsford.ca>, rsiemens@abbotsford.ca, Sandy Blue <sblue@abbotsford.ca>

 

I’m sending these questions to a number of you at City Hall because it’s necessary to get these questions answered before Monday, Sept. 12/16 IN WRITING.

 

Neighbours have posed questions that never occurred to me, and there are enough inconsistencies to warrant having answers in print, and provided by you who can answer with authority, that sticks.  It happens at times that someone relies on a government official, only to be told later that the information was wrong.  Verbal communication is fine, except when it is miscommunication.

 

Because of some confusion among neighbours, I called the planning department last Thursday, about duration of signage. I’d been told earlier that a re-zoning sign had to be put up directly after Council approved the application, upon 1st and 2nd reading.  So essentially the sign would be up at most a few weeks, until a Public Hearing that approved, or denied, the applicant’s request for re-zoning.

 

But the staff person on Thursday told me the re-zoning sign had to go up from the time an application was submitted for study,…..in other words the sign would be up for months, during which time the neighbourhood would have a lot of time to be made aware of the proposal.

 

Those two scenarios differ a lot, so I asked for a bit of clarification. The woman said she would transfer me.  The transfer went to a voice-mail explaining that the department was experiencing something or other, so not to expect a return call for 48 hours.  I did leave a message but by day-end Friday, no one had called back.

 

We got our post-card about the Public Hearing on Friday afternoon, Sept. 2nd.  City Hall shuts down the phones at 4 PM, and with the holiday will not resume work until Tuesday morning. So, at best, this card gives us 5 business days to know about a Public Hearing that has to do with our home, our property valued about $350,000.  Some neighbours got their cards on Thursday, and some on Wednesday.  Same for these people, – with weekends and a holiday and a City Hall experiencing some difficulty in answering the public, you are GRANTING 5, 6 or 7 days for a whole community of 150 who will be affected by the decision made on Sept. 12th.

 

The decision about our community would have already been made by you on July 25th after a regular meeting on July 11th.  But for the omission of a sign on 2090 Oakridge Cr., we could already be living with a new reality.  Thankfully that delay has allowed us all to put our minds to this sudden move, and so we are not caught off guard.  But the same flawed procedure is still in place, whereby you determine to make a decision on properties totalling some $52,500,000.  You think 10 days or less is a perfectly fine period of time to know about, or act, on such a by-law amendment request.

 

Since I couldn’t get an answer from City Hall, and information on the City website did not correspond to some information my neighbours were getting,  I phoned the Provincial help-line.  My call ended up with a woman who told me firmly and emphatically,……. that she could not answer my questions, and that no one there could, and that I would have to enlist a solicitor.  

 

I could not grasp what she was saying.  I’d asked a few simple questions.  I wasn’t angry,  not talking about suing anyone.  It was incomprehensible why this woman kept gently and firmly telling me that I would have to get legal advice, just to understand rules about municipal by-law amendments.   Why?

 

Well, at least now I realize, like I never did before, how vital it is that you, Council, provide clear answers in writing, and before the day of the hearing.

 

You remind the public at those hearings that you will not engage with them, you will only listen.  So please explain things now.  There are woefully inadequate days left before the 12th, and still there is no real clarity.

 

1.  Exactly when does a Re-zoning sign have to be put up on an applicants property?

 

2.  Is the request to discharge the Land Use Contract on 2090 Oakridge Crescent a precedent-setter for the rest of us in LUC 13?

 

3. Would a precedent for LUC 13 extend to the other mobile homes on their own lands on all of Oakridge Cr., Lombard St., Monarch Court, and Crystal Court?  (Both yes and no answers have been given to this question from the neighbours.)

 

4.  Currently the Provincial LUC trumps the underlying municipal RS3 zoning, and Abbotsford earlier said they were aiming for 2022 as a target for complying with the Provincial 2024 end of LUCs.  What reason do you have for suddenly springing such a momentous change on our unique community in the middle of the summer holidays of 2016?   Why the urgency?

RED not in my original to City Hall: [While the City must accept any and all applications, it is under no obligation to send the request to a Public Hearing.]

5.  From the available information it appears that Abbotsford has chosen to go with the MINIMAL time frame allowed by the Province of BC, in terms of giving public notice of upcoming By-law amendments.  You, (City Hall) say having 1st and 2nd reading on one date then granting a hearing in two weeks, then dropping a card in your mailbox, then expecting the card to be received and read with a week or so, is all in order and falls perfectly within the mandate vested on you by the senior government.

 

If you determine to do the minimum, which in itself is a questionable practice for public servants, then still,…… the province minimum is that notices be DELIVERED 10 days prior to a hearing.  A delivery service does not say your parcel has been delivered until it is at your door. ‘Sent‘ and ‘delivered‘ are distinct concepts.  You give yourselves 30 BUSINESS days to answer Freedom of Information requests, and frequently use some reason as to why you should have a further 30 BUSINESS days for said FOI. So you easily take for yourself 60 to 100 days to answer questions the public has a right to know.  You made the public wait nine months before you provided a copy of the contract signed with the Abbotsford Heat.  You kept stalling by saying there were minor tweaks being made to the contract.  But that was not true.  Just buying time to keep the public in the dark.

[So City Hall lengthens time in order to keep the public in the dark about what they’ve done with public funds, and shortens the time frames to a ridiculous paltry time-frame that makes it almost impossible for the  tax-paying public to know in advance what changes Council intends to make on zoning.  That is just so convenient for land-use speculators in the know, and politicians are also there buying up affordable housing.]

I wonder why you are not puzzled, and deeply disturbed among yourselves, about making such incredibly important decisions on our behalf, without providing adequate time.  The time you think is sufficient, is less than the standard two week vacation most people get.  You folk at City Hall likely get three weeks, or more. What would you think about all this if you were mere people instead of very important persons?

 

Can anyone trust a local government like that?

 

It would never be me, because I’ve never sued anyone in my life and I intend to leave this world that way. But surely giving 10 days or less, depending on mail delivery time, is bad.  So bad that I don’t believe this lack of time to provide information or time to consult with affected Abbotsford residents would stand a serious court challenge.  I doubt any of my neighbours, other than the speculator landlords have money for legal counsel either. But what you are doing is unjust. Why would you not simply want to do what is good, fair and just for the people you vowed to serve?

 

People here are asking about their house insurance.  If you decide to just take away the LUC, (long before you need to) then all our properties will be under RS3 zoning, which does not allow for modular homes.  So what happens then if an existing mobile home burns down?  The property owner according to that zoning would be forced to build a house, at vastly, and I suggest out of reach cost to most people here.

 

6.  So please tell us in print, IF YOU REMOVE THE LUCs, what would the home owner do if their existing mobile burned down?  Would you allow a new modular replacement on that land, or would the poor souls be forced to build or sell now?

 

7. One neighbour got some assurance from staff about ‘Grandfathering‘, but she got that verbally, not in print.  So can you spell out exactly what ‘grandfathering’  means to those of us who bought to live here, and do not want to sell, or replace our lovely mobiles with large houses.

 

8. If you approve the K.K. Gill request for the discharge of the house she bought last March, and if that opens up the floodgates for many 3-storey houses with suites,…..the land component of our assessed values will undoubtedly rise, due to the potential of development. 

 

9.  This will without question increase the tax dollars we will have to pay to City coffers.  Is this part of your motivation to rush the removal of our 44 year Land Use Contracts? 

10. You have been unable or unwilling to address the explosion of illegal suites in Abbotsford.  If you allow 2090 Oakridge to become a large new house and suite, others will rapidly follow.  Will you ensure that these new houses don’t pay for themselves by the illegality of renting out multiple, hidden suites?

 

 

 

 

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