Updated:The Response (to our Delegation)

We previously posted the script of our Delegation before Council on Feb 22nd.  https://nvcityvoices.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/delegation-shipyards-growth-transparency-and-civic-engagement/.  We followed up with a letter to Mayor and Council requesting a response to our three questions presented.

Further to the reply from Mr. Tollstam, we have responded and our comments to each inquiry  follow:

RE: Your email dated February 23, 2016 to Mayor and Council re Follow up to Voices Delegation Feb 22

I have been requested by the Mayor to respond to your email of February 23, 2016 entitled “Follow up to Voices Delegation Feb 22”. Our reply to your inquiries is as follows:

1. Regarding the Shipyards/ waterfront/ lot 5 development: What has been spent, to what purpose, and what is still to come? In particular, with the museum out, what “arts and cultural uses” are envisioned for the Pipe Shop?’

The plans for the development of the Shipyards are still under development, and staff will bring the plans and costs to Council for approval. To the question of what has been spent to date, I believe the reconciliation statement for the Provincial Grant has been circulated to you previously. In regard to the Pipe Shop, the building has been leased temporarily to Quay Property Management. · This was done through an open call of proposals, and an extension to the original lease was provided until such time as a new use is determined. Document: 1369313-v1

Voices comment: Question 1 –

In other words, we’re being told, not a dime of City money has been spent to date on the Shipyards development. All expenditures have come out of the provincial grant intended for the new museum. We are dubious, but it seems we’ll have to wait and see what further information comes out. We also note that Mr. Tollstam is claiming the City does not have a plan for the future use of the Pipe Shop. Again, colour us dubious.

2. Regarding the revised RGS targets – why were an additional 6,000 units added to the original targets (as stated in the Regional Context Statement)?

The Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) estimates that the City of North Vancouver will grow by approximately 20,000 people between 2011 and 2041 . The RGS included an estimate of a minimum of 6,000 new dwelling units needed to accommodate this long-term growth.

The City’s Official Community Plan aligns with the RGS by providing opportunities for this growth to occur primarily in the Regional City Centre and on transit-accessible corridors. Residential units in these areas will have lower persons per dwelling unit than the Metro average and consequently a greater number of dwelling units are required to accommodate long term population growth. The City’s Regional Context Statement, which indicates how the OCP is aligned with regional priorities, estimates that approximately two thirds of the City’s growth will occur in the Regional City Centre (apartment-form housing) and includes a table indicating that approximately 10,500 new residential units are needed in the City Centre and transit accessible locations to accommodate anticipated population growth. These dwelling unit estimates are larger than the 6,000 estimated by Metro as they are based on the best available data on persons per dwelling unit in the City of North Vancouver.

Voices comment: Question 2

This does not answer our question, but just repeats the flawed reasoning that we have been disputing for several years.  The city’s justification for increasing the construction of new units is based on assuming an average of 1.7 persons per dwelling (down from their original projection of 2.2 persons per dwelling). Even if this is accurate, and isn’t just fudging the numbers to rationalize the current high-rise building boom, it means the city expects a significant number of these units will be occupied by just one person. Is that realistic? Does that sound like a diverse community that includes families?
.

3. Regarding Public Input – many members of the public would like to know if it’s likely they will be allowed to speak if they come to Council. So far, it seems hit and miss with no explanation as to the reason to limit speakers. Meetings seems to be over quickly, so it doesn’t appear to be because of heavy agendas. If this is to be the policy, why not have the bylaw reflect it?

There are currently three opportunities for the public to provide input at Council meetings (public input period, delegations and public question period), which extend well beyond Council’s statutory obligations for public consultation. The purpose of Council meetings is to conduct City business regarding items on the agenda. Further, public input should be related to City business and matters within Council’s mandate. Quite often the public input received is off-topic, accusatory, repetitive, untrue, promotes goods and services and, at times, includes electioneering. Further, it is contrary to the intent of a Council meeting, which is to conduct the business of Council.

The current Council Procedure Bylaw limits the number of speakers during the Public Input Period to 5; however, Council can extend that number to accommodate any extra speakers that may sign up on the sign-up sheet. Since the July 7, 2015 Council meeting, there were 17 Council meetings with an opportunity for the Public Input Period. Of the 17 Public Input Periods there were 3 instances where all the speakers were not heard, 2 instances where no one requested to speak and in most instances there was 1 person requesting to speak. Allowing an unrestricted number of speakers during the Public Input Period makes agenda planning problematic, particularly when attempting to schedule an accurate time for commencement of Public Hearings and Public Meetings that require public notification or for the timing for delegations and presentations to be heard.

If a member of the public has a pressing issue or question to ask of Council, they always have the opportunity to provide their inquiry to the City Clerk’s office before 4:00 pm on the day of a Council meeting, and the City Clerk’s office will continue their current practice of delivering time-sensitive correspondence items to Council members prior to the meeting or on table at the meeting.

Further, several opportunities are available for members of the community and the public to contact elected officials and City staff. These include visiting City Hall during regular business hours, contacting a member of staff or Council by phone, scheduling a meeting with staff, the Mayor or a member of Council, submitting correspondence by way of mail, email or hand delivered to City Hall, attending public meetings, town hall meetings and/or open houses. All correspondence received is circulated to members of Council each week, so they receive new information on a regular basis.

Voices comment: Question 3 –
Again, this does not answer our question; it’s basically just a cut-and-paste repeat of the previous justifications for curtailing public input. Once again, our question – is a maximum of five speakers at Public Input going to be the firm policy from now on, even though the bylaw does not require it? – has not been answered. We have never advocated “allowing an unrestricted number of speakers”, and Mr. Tollstam would know that if he had paid attention to our delegation. We recognize there will be occasions when limiting the number is justified. All we are asking is for the criteria for enforcing the limit be explicitly stated. For example: on a night with a light agenda, if six people sign up to speak, what is the justification for denying the sixth person? And lastly, continuing to characterize citizen input as “off-topic, accusatory, repetitive, untrue” etc. is frankly insulting. Democracy is often messy.  If our elected representatives can’t take a few minutes of criticism once a week, they should probably find a different line of work.
.

Regards,

A.K. Tollstam CAO

cc Mayor and Council

     Fred Dawkins

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