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

Advertisements