High Stakes (editorial)
In May, we wrote an editorial, warning City of North Vancouver council not to let this happen. After years of work, the CityShaping OCP is bogged down in a procedural rat’s nest with just weeks before the 2014 municipal election. There’s significant risk the OCP will languish into the new council term or even die on the vine, putting us into legislative parts unknown.
The impasse and flip-flopping at council is petulant and frankly embarrassing.
The fact is, it was this council that was elected to oversee and usher in the new OCP. It was also this council that monkeyed with the timeline for the OCP’s approval to suit their own political agendas.
You could blame the mayor and his allies for waiting until the last minute to take their ball and go home. You could blame Coun. Guy Heywood for torpedoing the approval simply because it didn’t achieve his Quixotic goal of bringing about amalgamation. You could blame the faction that sought to drag this out in the first place. It doesn’t matter.
Council now owes it to its citizens to find whatever compromises are needed, come to a consensus and get this plan passed. Give the new council the clean slate it deserves.
They’ve got five more meetings to demonstrate they earned the votes that put them in those seats in 2011.
Otherwise, we’re looking at the squandering of time, money, effort and community goodwill on a sickening scale.
Reports of the death of the City of North Vancouver’s CityShaping official community plan may have been greatly exaggerated. The high-level vision for the next 20 to 30 years of the city is merely stuck in legislative limbo.
A split council voted down third reading of the OCP bylaw after a public hearing on Sept. 29 following three years and untold thousands of hours of city council, staff and community volunteer time spent drafting and refining it through public consultation.
Couns. Linda Buchanan and Craig Keating and Mayor Darrell Mussatto cast three of the deciding “nay” votes, largely on the grounds that the latest draft of the document stripped away the ability for homeowners to build both a coach house and secondary suite on their property, choking off the development of affordable housing units.
Coun. Guy Heywood said he supported the land use and housing plans in the 125-page document, but couldn’t support the remaining chapters that focus on broader topics like arts, health and recreation, which he argued should be done with the District of North Vancouver. Heywood is and has spent much of the last year pushing the city to reconsider amalgamation with the district.
But the OCP, which the province mandates must be updated, could still be revived and passed before the Nov. 15 election if council moves quickly, according to city staff.
“There are some reconsideration options available to council in the procedure bylaw. No one has come forward to me yet regarding the reconsideration so at this point, the bylaw is sitting at second reading,” said city clerk Karla Graham. “It could come forward as it is. It could come forward with new information and then a new public hearing would need to be called.”
The notion triggered debate about whether council members could or should to come to a consensus before the five remaining council meetings are up.
“We’ve been at it for three years. I don’t understand how a new member of council … can get up to speed in a reasonable amount of time. I think it would be best to make a decision prior to the work of this council being concluded,” said Coun. Pam Bookham. “To me, it’s our biggest responsibility and I don’t think we want to pass that buck onto some inexperienced councillor who may well have been reading the North Shore News but that’s not quite the same as the experience we have had in considering the issues and options that are available to us in mapping our future.”
In May, however, before the draft OCP had a number of density provisions stripped out of it, Bookham said she would be fine with seeing the process carry on until after the election, allowing voters to shape the council that will uphold the OCP.
Keating, who chastised Bookham for taking that position, has also since had a change of heart, speaking in defence of any potential council newcomers. He noted one of his first votes on council in 1999 was for the rezoning of the Shipyards.
“That was a bylaw that was about yay-thick,” he said holding his thumb and fingers apart. “I think it’s probably thicker than the current OCP so I certainly think we do not need to fear democracy. We do not need to fear there may be other candidates who come here and make a decision and I do not think we need to fear that people will have an inability to be able to penetrate the OCP. It’s been a very public process so far. Lots of engagement and none of us, I think, is indispensable around this table.”
Meanwhile, the 2002 OCP remains in effect and the city may have to come up with a stop gap measure to satisfy the provincial requirement to update it.
Putting the OCP on ice also leaves council members in the awkward position of being able to share their opinions about the plan but not accept any new information since the close of the public hearing in September. Bookham questioned how council members campaigning for re-election could avoid that when speaking with voters who want to give them an “earful” about the city’s future.
“That’s the fine line, unfortunately, that we have to walk here,” Graham said. “The lawyers have said if it is new information that should be provided to the public, then that would constitute a new public hearing. If it’s just council expressing their opinion, which has been well known all along and having that discussion with someone at a meeting or at the grocery store lineup, that’s fine. That can’t be avoided. That’s just common nature with human interaction basically.”
– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/city-of-north-vancouver-flip-flops-on-ocp-fate-1.1418477?utm_source=Business%20Information%20Group&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NorthShoreNewsNewsletterforWednesdayOctober82014#sthash.eEHiEohi.dpuf