RE: Public Hearing for Land Use Contract Discharge at 2090 Oakridge Crescent (PRJ16-067)

Inbox x

Darren Braun

7:19 AM (1 hour ago) Reply
to me, George, Siri, Nancy, Bill, Nick, Henry, Les, Sandy, Kelly, Brenda, Moe, Dave, Patricia, Ross

Thank you Darren.    I’ll inject my thoughts throughout in red, with the original questions shown below.

Good morning Gerda, thanks very much for your follow-up email to our 2 hour meeting here at City Hall with a number of residents from your neighbourhood on August 10th discussing the proposed Land Use Contract (LUC) discharge application we received for 2090 Oakridge Crescent, where the applicant proposes to discharge their existing LUC from only the subject site and utilize the existing underlying Zoning contained within our Zoning Bylaw No. 2400-2014.

As discussed at length during our meeting, this is not a City initiated early termination situation, the applicant submitted an application on April 8, 2016 and we are bringing forward the planning staff report for Council’s consideration of the proposal.  In terms of a precedent situation, as specifically mentioned during our meeting, each application is unique and we review them based upon existing City policies and bylaws and bring forward a recommendation for Council’s consideration and decision.

I specifically asked about precedence, as did other neighbours.  Once the K.K. Gill property is given the green light to pull out the mobile and replace it with a large house and suite, that in itself is the precedent.  There are only mobiles here and have been for 44 years, since 1972 no one was allowed to build a house in our community.  Of course IT IS A PRECEDENT, and it will be rapidly followed by the speculators who have been scooping up our wonderful AFFORDABLE HOUSING.  Those folk have been voraciously prowling this neighbourhood, urging people to sell.  Yes this is precedent setting.  Mayor and Council will at once acquiesce to those demands for the same treatment of their LUCs.  As you can see in this document, it will cost them all of a grand DOLLAR.  Everyone involved in this is fully aware of the speculators waiting eagerly for City Hall to do their bidding.  Our unique community will become monster houses, as fast as those speculators can get their hands on more of this last bit of affordable housing.  The only thing ‘affordable’ in time will be a suite somewhere within one of those monster houses.


In terms of the required Rezoning notification sign, as indicated during our meeting, as per the City of Abbotsford Development Application Procedures Bylaw the sign is required to be in place for at minimum of 3 weeks in advance of Council consideration of the proposed Bylaw. We received confirmation that the sign was installed on July 27th, which is just over 4 weeks in advance of 1st and 2nd reading which occurred on Aug. 29th, and just over 6 weeks in advance of the Public Hearing scheduled for September 12th.

 Your humility in accepting full responsibility for the sign oversight is commendable, but does not give much comfort in the cold light of Council’s hasty plan to go from July 11 to July 25 in the dead heat and centre of summer holiday time to drive through such a huge development proposal.  Can the Mayor and Council not think in the heat either?  That is 14 days, so anyone should have been able to see the MAXIMUM notification to our community would be 12 days!  That is a patently absurd number of days to hear about so significant a by-law change. Yes, because of one alert man that unsung Hearing was cancelled,…..on the day of.  

That this would all be signed, sealed and delivered AND IRREVERSIBLE by now, gives me zero reason to trust the wisdom or integrity of the sitting Council.

In addition to the notice in the City page within the newspaper, the notification sign, a postcard is also mailed for all rezoning applications notifying the date/time/location of the Public Hearing and providing a link to the staff report to find out additional information, along with providing contact information for the file manager and City Clerk.  These postcards are mailed following Council’s consideration of 1st and 2nd reading of a proposed Bylaw, which is typically on the Tuesday following the Monday night Regular meeting of Council.  The Local Government Act specifically states that a notice must “be mailed or otherwise delivered at least 10 days before the public hearing”, which is reflected in our Development Application Procedures Bylaw.

Darren, here you are being disingenuous.  To suggest that ‘sent’ equates to delivered is nonsense.  The Province mandates a minimum ‘delivery’ time of 10 days.  If you sent this second round of post-cards on August 30, …. I know that five of those arrived in the mail delivery about 3 PM yesterday.  Yesterday was the 6th of September.  The Hearing is on the 10th.  Count that, four days left, and two of them are weekend.

Can you or the Mayor and Council in any conscience think a paltry few days is enough to give the people (whose taxes pay your wages,)…. sufficient time to do anything about a proposed change to their property value or quality of life?  

And why would you even want to utilize THE MINIMUM requirement of 10 days.  Ten days won’t fit into any of your holiday time off, yet less than two weeks is good enough for that ‘public’ out of the comfortable confines of City Hall.

In terms of LUC’s 14, 42, 49, 52, and 125 within the neighbourhood, the majority of which currently permit a mobile home on the property, the proposed application if approved by Council does not alter the permitted uses of any property except for 2090 Oakridge Crescent. Therefore, the replacement of a mobile home on a property within the aforementioned Land Use Contracts that currently permits a mobile home would remain unaltered and continue to be permitted while the existing Land Use Contract(s) remains in place.  As indicated during our meeting, given that the provincial legislation (Bill 17) will sunset all existing Land Use Contracts within the Province of BC in 2024, we have added this item (reviewing the underlying zoning of the aforementioned LUC’s comprised of existing fee simple lots on Oakridge Crescent, Martens Street, Lombard Avenue, Monarch Court, and Crystal Court) into our list of items to review in the next comprehensive update to our Zoning Bylaw.  We are targeting commencing this comprehensive update sometime in the fall of this year, to align our Zoning Bylaw with the new policies contained within our 2016 Official Community Plan.

……”while the existing Land Use Contract(s) remains in place.”  Well THAT is a comfort, given that you follow that with,….“We are targeting commencing this comprehensive update SOMETIME IN THE FALL OF THIS YEAR.”  I’d prefer you take up target practice at the rifle range.  What is your rush to target one of the last affordable housing neighbourhoods left in Abbotsford?  Why in 2016, when, as you say the sunset clause is the year 2024?


Tucked among the myriad points and sub-points of City website is the little jewel that no re-zoning sign is required if ten land-owners ask for a re-zoning.  If you grant the Gill application we’ll soon have a critical mass of land-lord’s working to remake our community, into the place they envision.

In regards to potential property tax increases as a motivation for approval of the proposal, this is NOT considered or factored in at all by planning staff during the preparation of our staff report, as outlined above, we review each application based upon the existing City policies and bylaws and bring forward a recommendation for Council’s consideration and decision.

Here you simply skirt around the issue.  BC Assessment WILL assess all our properties on the higher potential value injected into our humble area by the intrusion of three-story houses, maxing out the footprint and paying for those structures by the rental of suites.  You and every person on Council are aware of the myriad illegal suites hidden within monster houses in the town you govern.  The EXISTING situation for us right now is that we are protected from monster houses because of the Provincial Land Use Contracts, in place since 1972.  That wonderful LUC has provided affordable housing to many, many families and would still do so, if you made careful and well thought out decisions about what our community will become in the future.   If Mayor and Council approve the K.K. Gill application next Monday, you will have set the direction, and it will be to give in to the greed of land-use speculators who are waiting to move in with monster houses that pay for themselves with multiple illegal suites.

Call me anything you want.  I have gone to City Hall for years asking you to enforce your own by-laws.  I have been in those monster homes with multiple illegal suites, known plenty of people forced to rent them because honest brokers can’t compete in this town.  Why even try to be an honest builder or renter when scofflaws are given free rein to by-pass all the rules, regulations, codes and taxes imposed on honest people?

NOTE:  I DO NOT KNOW K.K. GILL, OR THE OWNER OF THE HOUSE IN THIS PICTURE.  They may be pure as the driven snow.  But I do know that you people have averted your eyes and shut your ears to the blatant abuse of the laws, that you pretend governs Abbotsford.  I know that you, City Hall have done very little to constrain people who believe they don’t need to obey the laws of the land. You, our civic leaders have allowed cheaters to flourish and prosper here.  

I could easily live with a change in by-law that allows houses to be built here, with secondary suites to help pay the mortgage and open up more rental housing.  I can’t quietly accept what will almost certainly come, unless you people keep our community distinct, with our own designation, like perhaps RS3A.  Of course you’ll assure us that by-law enforcement is complaint driven, so no need to worry about multiple illegal suites, but I hope you would be ashamed to give such a feeble assurance.  If people had held their breath waiting for a level playing field in Abbotsford, three-quarters of the population would have expired by now.


If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the file manager directly (Nick Crosman, Assistant Planner – Direct: 604 557 7067) copied on this correspondence.


Darren, you don’t answer the question posed by some of the neighbours about what happens if in the future you remove the LUC on all of us, the properties automatically become RS3, which does not allow for modulars, and then if someone’s home burns, or a whirlwind takes it to Kansas, then what? If the owner can’t take the insurance money and put in a new modular,……then what,……if that owner does not have enough money to build a house?  Tough luck buddy?  Will you say, “Sell, there’s a buyer already waiting, on what remains of your doorstep.  Hope you can find a comparable home somewhere North of Smithers.”?  What Council wants to do on Monday has certain ramifications for the last bit of affordable housing, even though your own “Affordable Housing Strategy – 2011” states as the number one goal of the City is to retain current affordable housing.  The vote on Monday intends to destroy any such hope.  The pretty Official Community Plan will also have been an expensive make-work project.  Our community will in time be a barren enclave of large houses and illegal suites, unless there remains some integrity at the Council level.


The Original:

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,… 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?