MetroVanWatch report on Delta Council’s vote on RGS (Feb 7)

The Delta Municipal Council meeting (7 pm, Monday, Feb 7, 2011) went somewhat as expected: Delta Council (1) passed the proposal to request the Agricultural Land Commission to consider returning the Southlands to Agricultural Land Reserve status, and then (2) passed the RGS, which undermines agricultural land in general.

  • Only one person from the public presented a statement and question on the RGS.
  • The question was articulately asked, but was not answered. (“Will you defer approval of the RGS Bylaw until the RGS is amended to ensure that a public hearing at Metro level is always held whenever any change to an urban containment boundary is proposed?”)
  • The Mayor only commented on how there had been so much consultation over so many years and that Council could not possibly delay this decision for one small detail.
  • One of the Councillors the spoke about Special Study Areas, although these are NOT relevant to the Southlands (former Spetifore farmland in Tsawwassen). The Councillor stated that in the Southlands case, a decision on change of land use would still require a 2/3 vote of the Metro Board.
  • This statement was completely wrong, but staff made no effort to clarify that point.
  • Delta planning department staff must know that a change of land use on Southlands, once the RGS enters into force, will only require a 50%+1 vote at the Metro Board (this means that, for example, the three biggest municipalities alone — just Vancouver, Surrey, and Burnaby, for example — decide the fate of land in Delta), and with NO local or Metro Van public hearing to get community input.
  • This is a very important point. Staff should have provided the correct information so that Council could make an informed decision.
  • It appears therefore that Council made a decision based on incorrect information. This is just one example of the many problems of the process leading up to the creation and acceptance of the RGS.
  • What does this decision mean? Most municipalities in Metro Vancouver have yet to “accept” or “reject” (completely or with reference to specific paragraphs) the RGS, by mid-March. If the RGS enters into force (possibly within two months, unless our elected officials start to take its flaws seriously and demand, for the public good, that the RGS be revised), then after the November 2011 election, communities are likely to see developments pushed through using Metro Vancouver processes that will easily override local interests, opinion or opposition. Municipalities may they begin to see the conflicts begin in their jurisdictions.
  • MetroVanWatch concluding questions: For such an important decision in Delta Council, only one speaker addressed Council about the RGS. Is the low turnout because the people of Delta have had the RGS accurately and truthfully explained to them, and the majority of Deltans support it? Has the RGS been fairly and meaningfully covered by the local media? Has the Delta municipal Council made a great effort to reach out and explain the RGS to the community in a timely way, especially in the last six months, when its most important content took concrete form and many revisions were made? Have the opinions of Deltans been adequately reflected in the RGS? Or is it that Deltans don’t realize what their elected officials have done? Or that notice of the RGS on the agenda was only made public on Friday, or that in Delta only 15 minutes are allotted to speakers from the public on all agenda items? Or some other reason?
  • Final point: Our public servants have a code of conduct of first and foremost serving the public interest and our elected officials are first and foremost accountable to the public. Let us hope that during the ratification period now to mid-March, as municipal councils review the RGS, that they do their jobs properly. The record will speak for itself.
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About cityhallwatch

Citizens concerned about public benefits arising from decisions at Vancouver's City Hall.
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