The following is unpublished as of March 13th:
I should have learned my lesson years ago when I was on the committee to try to save North Van High School. Made up of school board staff, trustees, NVHS teachers and parents, we met regularly for over a year until me were told the property had been sold for $1 Million to the provincial government for a new courthouse. Those negotiations had obviously not taken place in the couple of weeks since our last meeting but not a hint had ever been dropped to our committee. Everyone else had been paid for their time spent on this committee but the parent/members had volunteered time from busy lives. We were justified, I think, to feel we had been used and had wasted valuable hours.
So — jump ahead 34 years to the Onni development at 13th and Lonsdale. There was enough public unhappiness about this proposal that several citizens and citizen groups stepped up to the plate to present an opposition. Remember the weather last November? Several residents stood out on Lonsdale, in the pouring rain, gathering nearly 2000 signatures against the development in the form of two petitions which were presented to council on November 19. NV City Voices created a website which posted letters, newspaper articles, notices of meetings to inform and generate interest.
Onni initiated a slur campaign against any opposition, including two city councillors, on radio, TV and local newspapers. Of course, success meant millions of dollars profit to them and they spent several thousand on public promotion – something the citizen opposition couldn’t match.
Now they have won. But in winning they have left a large swath of citizens now very much aware of the huge loopholes in our local government system — loopholes which enable future developers to bypass the OCP, pay a pittance for “Uplift Value” and to make vague promises in order to acquire extra density and height.
Some of us in opposition won’t give up. Some of us still believe open, honest government is worth striving for.
Only time will tell …….