graph-of-time-alloted-for-public-hearings-in-bc———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Gerda Peachey <gerdapeachey@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Oct 8, 2016 at 11:12 PM
Subject: Fwd: Graph of Time Allotted (as jpeg)
To: submissions@bcombudsperson.ca, George Murray <gmurray@abbotsford.ca>, Henry Braun <hbraun@abbotsford.ca>, Darren Braun <dbraun@abbotsford.ca>, “deJong.MLA, Mike” <Mike.deJong.MLA@leg.bc.ca>, Darryl <Darryl.Plecas.MLA@leg.bc.ca>, peter.fassbender.mla@leg.bc.ca

Raheel Humayun, Manager of Investigations:

Hello Raheel:

Thank you for your letter.  In our telephone conversation you folk asked if I had spoken about my concerns to City Manager, George Murray.  I told you that I do send my emails to him, as well as to the rest of Council.  Mr. Murray blocked my emails quite awhile ago, so I don’t sense any openness for dialogue from him.  However I still include his name on most emails to City Hall.

Unfortunately there is a history of blocking the voices that City Hall does not want to hear.  A few years back a local farmer saw his next door property sold to new owners, who commenced using the farm land for a large truck park.  Traffic rumbled and roared in and out, all hours of the day and night.  Men washed the trucks, did oil and lubricant work on the glacial till above the local aquifer, …… all of this absolutely against Abbotsford zoning and by-laws.  At first  City staff were pleasant and assured the farmer and his wife they would look into it.  But there was no action and business boomed for the scofflaw next door.  The farmer and his wife, and other neighbours continued to ask the City to stop this flagrant abuse of the rules, but nothing changed, except that City Hall no longer picked up the phone when she called.  The scofflaw continued unimpeded and since then been joined by many others property owners who make a lot of money on illegal business activities in Abbotsford.

The same scenario has repeated itself endlessly in terms of large houses in town, being converted to multiple illegal dwellings,….. using ALR lands to rent out sheds, trailers and barns to bring in a steady flow of under-the-table rental money.  The City says by-law enforcement is complaint driven, which has become a sick joke.  People have phoned the City until they give up in disgust.  Our City does enforce by-laws,……..on some people, and notably not on others.

One Abbotsford couple phoned City Hall over and over and over about a new neighbour who brought in hundreds and hundreds of loads of fill.  Same dreary story.  The City did nothing.  Water flow got altered, the couple saw their front yard turn into a pond.  Their trees died.  The City did nothing, but stop returning their phone calls.

So that, and hundreds of stories like that, is why I am dismayed at the sudden move by City Hall to remove the Land Use Contract that has protected our community of 159 properties for 44 years.  For years I’ve witnessed a dysfunctional response to blatant disregard for the rules that govern us.  Whether the uneven enforcement is due to apathy, incompetence, cowardice or possibly even corruption, ….. ultimately the effect on our City is an unhealthy disdain for governing authorities, and increasing disregard for laws.   That really matters because our democratic system will not survive without a respect for, and adherence to, communally agreed upon rules.

I have tried to work towards a level playing field in my city for the past two decades, with no success, and that was what made my decision to run for Council myself.  Now the grim prospect of large houses looms over my wonderful neighbourhood, with the prospect of a radically altered neighbourhood and quite possibly lots of illegal suites.

I could easily live with zoning that accommodated both modulars and regular houses, and the right of any property owner to have a renter to help alleviate the financial burdens of life, while also providing good safe homes for renters.  But I know from  experience that large houses often become hidden dwellings for multiple, illegal suites.

That explains my reason for opposing the LUC removal that initially was sprung on us, so suddenly and silently,…

an application that would already be a fait accompli but for some clear heads and fast action by neighbours.

Our journey opened our eyes to a fundamental flaw in the way the Province allows local governments to proceed with Public Hearings, that have the potential to radically impact land value and quality of life.  My City insists that they are perfectly within the Provincial mandate when they drop a post-card announcement in their mailbox 13 days before a Public Hearing, so at best affected neighbours will get a card in the mail 12 days prior to a hearing about by-law changes  that might be of vital importance.  Newspaper ads also give less than 14 days heads-up.

Council says the Province does not even require them to direct developers to put up Re-zoning signs, that they are going above and beyond by telling developers to put up those signs. This ridiculously short time frame and lack of prior consultation is a slap in the face of people who are the foundation, the back-bone of our province.

British Columbia will see many Land Use Contracts discharged by the year 2024.  Inadequate notification time for neighbourhoods is either set by thoughtless bureaucrats or there is something far more nefarious at play.  No consultation is required, no information need be provided and a paltry few days notification that puts local residents at a distinct disadvantage to developers. Whether seen as positive or negative, people need to be given enough time to know about proposed changes to the land around them.

Politicians and civil servants have the inside track on the outworking of Bill 17 and what is going on with LUCs.  Local governments have the task of ending all LUCs..  Many politicians buy and sell real-estate. There is nothing illegal about that, but there must be no hint of anything that would give an unfair advantage to government employees or their friends.

Minister of Finance Mike de Jong helped implement Bill 17 and had some involvement with real estate in our unique community, so it is imperative that By-law amendments be done in an orderly, transparent manner..  Given that the proponent of the K.K. Gill application specifically made reference to the Minister, there should have been a halt to what was already a flawed, rushed push to approve the application.

There is no malice in my reference to our MLA.  I’ve attended his monthly breakfast meetings for a number of years.  He impresses me as a really smart, high energy, strong politician.  And I joined the Liberal party so that I could add my vote to his bid for Premier.  I would probably do that again.  It is the action of our Council that lacked quality.

Many LUCs are coming up for discharge and policy makers influence zoning.  Zoning can radically alter the lives of existing property owners, so there MUST be adequate time given for affected residents to know what is being proposed, and to involve themselves in the proceedings, if they want to.  At present the advantage is all on the side of speculators.

I ask that you not close this file.  Because of our frantic efforts the City has denied the application, for now.  Finally, the City says they will consult with us, something they propose to commence soon, with a new proposal set to bring to Council early in the new year.

Our area may likely look a lot different within a few years, and that came way earlier than 2024.

Before other local councils spring sudden and possibly drastic changes on their people, I ask you to speak to the government on behalf of all of British Columbia, to make it a law that the MINIMUM notification time be changed from the present ten days to,…….I would suggest,…..thirty days.

My MLA, Darryl Plecas has committed to bringing the matter to community affairs minister Peter Fassbender, but says all such things can take a very long time.  However this business of sliding the zoning from under the feet of the public must be addressed now.  People who pay for government to serve and protect them should not be given short shrift like this.  The current policy and time frame are patently wrong, and cannot just be left as something that might be addressed sometime down the road.

Those LUC discharges offer lucrative opportunities to land-use speculators and plenty of folk in government are in a position to pass insider information to family and friends, as well as their own direct benefit in land speculation.

There has to be an amendment to the current required minimum notification to residents, to allay the suspicion that this is designed to be easy for speculators and unfair to locals who aren’t watching every move made by their Council.

I’m hoping your office has sufficient independence to move forward on this.

Thank you,

Gerda Peachey

Attached see my simple graph showing TIME allotted for a variety of things, and the absurd number of days given for land-owners to learn about a Public Hearing that might have profound impact on their lives.

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