"Is it is any wonder that public participation is nil to non-existent when Council makes a mockery of the public process and insults those who volunteered to work on the most recent OCP." Radio Haney September 15, 2009
Farm proposal is no 'donation'
The TimesPublished: Tuesday, September 15, 2009
It is with great concern that I write this letter in reference to the upcoming public hearing (tonight, Tuesday) regarding the trade of Lower Jackson Farm to advance development of Upper Jackson Farm to urban density levels in contravention of our Official Community Plan 2006. A trade that is not supported by their own staff.
First of all, this is not a gift or donation referred to by both members of our community and the local press. This is a deal worked out in the backrooms with our council. A gift has no expectation of reciprocation, whereas this deal means that the owners will receive the ability to "break" our Official Community Plan, cross the Urban Containment Boundary and develop 112 lots on rural residential land, bring municipal water (prematurely) to rural lands that service 112 lots because they can afford to pay for it, develop the Urban Reserve without any milestones in our Official Community Plan being met, risk the impact of on our aquifer which services all our wells without a proper study being conducted as promised by our district, but most importantly this is the silent trade that will open the doors prematurely to development for all the speculators who are waiting anxiously for this plan to pass in return for Lower Jackson Farm coming into district hands for free.
Secondly, our community understands that if council is allowed to cross the Urban Boundary prematurely, with this proposal, it will make the entire boundary vulnerable to every other part of our community because they have been allowed to set this precedent.
There is, however, a solution presented by district staff to council, which council and developer have refused. The district could trade district-owned lands (our land), which are already zoned for residential urban development, and this would enable us to acquire Lower Jackson Farm, give fair trade value to the developer and not break our Official Community Plan. If both the developer and council truly want to trade Lower Jackson so that it becomes a community-owned property, then they should both be looking seriously at this option. The district has recently traded land using this method.
This is the first major test for our Official Community Plan as to whether it is worth the paper it is written on and whether we can trust in the process and our council to adhere to it.
Even as it has been said by council that the OCP "gets amended all the time," (in order to minimize the impact and repercussions of such an amendment) never has it been to the extent where Metro Vancouver would need to approve changing our Regional Context Statement (the heart of our Official Community Plan). This is heart transplant, not a simple amendment.
Council is counting on an apathetic and discouraged community who will not react strongly to this important issue of urban sprawl at its best. I think our community is smarter than council thinks and they will contact Metro Vancouver's Planning Department by letter or e-mail about their concerns because Metro Vancouver needs to approve sewer extension and a 50 per cent plus one approval by its members to change our Regional Context Statement. We as a community can appeal to Metro Vancouver's members because this particular proposal opposes all the goals set forth in the new Regional Growth Strategy expected to be passed this fall. So, even if you have lost hope in your local government over this issue, don't forget that there are other hurdles that need to be jumped in order for this to pass. Get your pen out or fire up your computer and start writing. Remember, it's your community.