Open letter to Voices members (the Onni campaign)

Hello Voices,
Last Friday a member of our group received an email from Beau Jarvis, Vice President of Development for the Onni group, which included a forwarded copy of an email, dated February 21, 2012, originally sent by John Watson to several people. Mr. Jarvis expressed “disappointment” over the email’s contents (in other exchanges he called it “offensive” and evidence that we are bullying Council members). Now the forwarded email is “mysteriously” popping up everywhere, posted onvarious websites, facebook, twitter etc., in an apparent attempt to cast aspersions on our group.  I have not included a copy of the email in this notice to you, but if you want it just let me know.
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Here are the facts:
·         There was no “North Van City Voices” group when this email was sent last February; our inaugural meeting was on March 6.
·         The discussion in the email was about the OCP review process (City Shaping) and had nothing to do with Onni or any other specific development. It was prompted by a number of people being concerned about the direction that the OCP review process seemed to be going at that time – e.g. a kickoff event that seemed biased in favour of density and rapid growth.
·         John was sharing his thoughts on things that these concerned citizens could do to counteract this apparent bias and ensure the new OCP truly reflected residents’ wishes.One outcome of this discussion was to form NVC Voices, to take an organized approach.
·         Some of us had sponsored an ad in the North Shore News prior to the election lastNovember, supporting four councillors who we felt were independent — Councillors Bell, Bookham, Clark and Heywood. They are mentioned in the email because some of us felt wecould work with those councillors.
·         John’s ideas were his alone; ultimately the group did not adopt the strategy he suggested. Voices was formed, we developed positions and strategies on various city issues, but we have NEVER leaned on or threatened any councillor. Most of our activities have been about pushing for good governance and better public input processes, e.g. our delegations to council on ways to improve City Shaping and a policy on bonusing.
·         Voices has not adopted a position on the Onni proposal. Some individual residents who are members of Voices are opposed to the proposal as currently structured, and have expressed their concerns through the normal channels – letters and emails to councillors, petitions, speaking at public hearings etc. – but on their own behalf, not as representatives of Voices. We have not met with any councillors on this matter.
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It seems to us that whoever is circulating this is attempting to discredit Voices, and by extension, all residents who oppose the Onni proposal as currently structured.  We’d like to remind you that the application has not been withdrawn; a second public hearing is scheduled for January 2013.
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We appreciate the four Councillors who voted to hold a second public hearing so the voices of all who wished to speak could be heard.  The attempts by some to polarize our community are disappointing and the personal attacks shameful.  Onni’s behaviour seems to have deteriorated since the “cheap trick” event in May (the letter from a relative to the NS News extolling the virtues of the proposal).  It seems this behaviour continues with accusations against Councillor Clark and disparaging comments about Councillor Bookham in a full page ad, but no mention of the ethics of the Mayor taking a large campaign contribution from this developer.
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NVC Voices’ primary objective is good governance. We are not opposed to all development, we want to make sure the process is fair, transparent and consistent with the community’s long-term best interests. That’s why our main focus has been on the City Shaping process and pushing for a policy on density bonusing and amenities.
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It’s unfortunate this old email is now being distributed, and especially unfortunate that some unknown party has been using it in a blatant attempt to misrepresent our group.
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If you have any questions, concerns, or would like further information please don’t hesitate to contact us,
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Toni Bolton for
North Van City Voices
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