Report: Dispute resolution, first 2 days, Metro Vancouver vs Coquitlam

[Update with new material 1 pm, 21-June-2011] MetroVanWatch will be providing material and commentary on the first two days (June 14 and 16) of non-binding arbitration efforts for the two parties. All material was obtained by members of the public who attended the meetings. (MetroVanWatch especially thanks VCVTV and Chatterbox films for their efforts.) Note that this coverage is all a citizen-based zero-budget initiative, all based on volunteer time, in the interest of openness of discussions about this the most important document ever produced by Metro Vancouver. Our underlying thought is this: We the people have elected these officials and pay their salaries as well as the salaries of the staff at Metro Vancouver and in each municipality. We need to be interested in this process. And we have a fundamental right to monitor their discussions and decisions about our future and the future of our entire region.

Executive Summary: No binding decisions were made on June 14 and 16. There was some good progress in discussions on specific issues of concern. The conclusion was that an effort would be made to find new days to continue meeting. Coquitlam requested Metro Vancouver to provide its questions in writing in advance of meetings, in order to expedite discussions. Minister Ida Chong is expecting a report back (not necessarily a resolution) by June 30, 2011.

MetroVanWatch Comment: Viewers and readers are encouraged to note the tone and content of comments from both sides. From the citizen’s perspective it seems that Coquitlam is trying to apply reason and get its issues with changes to the RGS done in a fair manner. Metro Vancouver wants to use force. The battle lines are appearing: Big versus little, Goliath versus David (with ultimately being the citizens in a municipality). The big cities of Vancouver, Surrey, then Burnaby and Richmond have the greatest voting power on the Metro Vancouver board. The citizens and future councils of the remaining municipalities risk having their voices ignored. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the Metro staff and Board have already shown how they would deal with future opposition from smaller municipalities: They chose to seek the use of force, through “binding dispute resolution” to force Coquitlam to accept the RGS. Our local society is fortunate that Minister Chong called for a non-binding process, and for the meetings to be open to the public.

Recommended reading: Some thaw in chilly talks with Metro growth plan holdouts (Jeff Nagel – BC Local News, 17-June-2011) Full article here.

Day 1 Report (June 14, 2011, at Coquitlam Council Chambers): Coquitlam negotiators presented their City’s case (see video below, document handouts will be forthcoming). The first 45 minutes were a debate about whether or not to allow live web streaming of the meeting. Coquitlam has the facilities and regularly streams Council meetings. Metro Vancouver opposed. In the end, video recording was permitted by no web streaming. That settled, detailed discussions continued (we will try to report more later). Meeting terminated on time at 5 pm.
Documents: Coquitlam-RGS_Brief, Metro Van, 14-June-2011

Full video of meeting (June 14, 2011, in Coquitlam Council Chambers, 3 hours 4 minutes, note that this version is updated June 20, with slides and different camera angles)

Slide show of Coquitlam presentation (hover over images to see controls to stop and advance).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Day 2 Report (June 16, 2011, at Metro Board Office, 1 to 5 pm): It appeared that almost every municipality had sent an elected official (some mayors, some councillors). Some sent senior planners. About 45 persons present, with about 25 observers. Discussions were at times acrimonious between the two sides, but the ending tone seemed more positive. No next meeting date was set, but facilitator summarized by saying that instructions from Victoria were for a report back to Minister Ida Chong by 30 June (this was not a date by which final settlement was required), that both sides wished to talk more, that the meeting should be in a setting more like Metro Board office (facing each other), that preparation (questions in writing) in advance would speed discussions. Citizen observers speaking afterwards felt that these discussions were very relevant to the public and should continue to be in public. Main themes of discussion were about centralized regional planning and control versus local self determination, the voting structure on major decisions under the RGS (e.g., a 50% + 1 vote could decide certain matters, meaning that Vancouver and Surrey plus one other municipality could consistently determine the outcomes, against the wishes of 21 other affected municipal councils and their citizens). More comments and observations to come soon. Bottom line: This is a very important and necessary discussion going on now.
* Langley City on Metro Van RGS, 16-June-2011
* Burnaby on Metro Van RGS, 16-June-2011

Full video of meeting (June 16, 2011, Metro Vancouver Board Room, 3 hours 15 minutes)

Coquitlam Councillor Mae Reid explains why the city cannot support the Regional Growth Strategy (Day One, June 14, 2011). Coquitlam is the lone holdout municipality in the …

Coquitlam Councillor Selina Robinson explains why the city cannot support the Regional Growth Strategy (Day One, June 14, 2011). Coquitlam is the lone holdout municipality …

Debate about allowing cameras (Day One, June 14, 2011). The meeting are open to the public. Coquitlam wanted cameras and webcasting, Metro Vancouver did not. Result of debate: No webcasting, but video recording OK.

More coverage of the dispute resolution process…Media:

  • Some thaw in chilly talks with Metro growth plan holdouts (Jeff Nagel – BC Local News, 17-June-2011) There is softening but no breakthrough yet in the impasse between Metro Vancouver and Coquitlam council over the proposed regional growth strategy after two days of dispute resolution talks. Full article here.
  • Coquitlam councillor Selina Robinson still seeking clarity on Regional Growth Strategy (Matthew Burrows, Georgia Straight, 15-Jun-2011)
  • Facilitator pulls out of discussions (Kelly Sinoski, 17-June-2011, Vancouver Sun). Full story here.
  • More coming

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