Wrongful secrecy? Delta citizen concerned about Southland negotiations and possible violation of Local Government Act on Metro Vancouver/TFN sewage negotiations in Delta

A citizen has written to MetroVanWatch with concerns that BC’s Local Government Act may be violated, with conditions for in camera (closed to the public) meetings not being met, regarding two topics in Delta. One relates to attempts to use legislation to prevent elected officials from hearing from citizens about Southlands land use decisions. Another relates to sewage services for Tsawassen First Nation that could end up coming at the cost of all Metro Vancouver taxpayers. Mayor Jackson and Metro Vancouver seem to want to keep these topics under wraps and away from public scrutiny. What better time is there to talk with 2011 civic election candidates about transparency and accountability of our municipalities and Metro Vancouver? ACTION: Talk to civic election candidates about these issues.

On September 23, 2011, the Greater Vancouver Sewage and Drainage District (GVS & DD) Board will apparently discuss arrangements with the Tsawassen First Nation regarding sewage services, but “the agenda is even being witheld. How can anyone know what is being discussed, except that it has to be about the TFN application for membership of the GVS & DD Board?”
See agendas here: http://www.metrovancouver.org/boards/Pages/BoardsCommittees.aspx

From the Delta citizen…With regard to the in camera secrecy, the GVS & DD Board agendas on the Metro web site will show this is happening. They are discussing the TFN application for membership of the Board. This involves their plans for development, and the consequent sewage requirements. Delta is also involved. I have been refused any information. I am sending you my letters to Metro, their reply, and I also am sending you my letters to Lois Jackson in her capacity as mayor, and also as chair of the GVS &DD. (Greater Vancouver Sewage and Drainage District Board). I have not had any reply. I asked a question at the Delta Council meeting question time (unrecorded or minuted by the way) about why. Mayor Jackson said that she ‘was on the same page”, but did not explain how she could preside over the GVD &DD secret meeting, and yet not tell Delta residents. [It appears that she is] probably involved in a joint agreement with TFN to arrange supply to increase Delta sewage capacity at the same time as serving the TFN developments, which on Friday are being doubled in size, compared to what is shown in the Regional Growth Strategy approved July 27. So Metro taxpayers will probably fund TFN infrastructure, and Delta taxpayers may contribute to serve a huge increase in adjacent development leading, to massive traffic problems.

Why should this not be subject to public scrutiny? The Delta sewage capacity is inadequate to serve proposed local developments. …This looks like a special secrecy negotiated by TFN. Just like how the Treaty agreement with the Port was achieved. What is at stake?

The in camera meetings must have known of the application by TFN to more than double development plans, and probably have laid plans for an agreement on that basis, yet before the change in the RGS is approved by the main Metro Board on Friday 23 Sept 2011.

1. The extent of TFN development
2. Terminal 2 sewage
3. Delta development plans.
4. Borrowing for huge infrastructure costs.
5. Increased debt for all Metro taxpayers, and taxation.
6. Facilitation of SFPR/T2/TFN, and Southlands development.

The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of Metro, Johnny Carline, has refused to come to Delta to explain what is happening. Or so we were told by the Delta CAO on Sept 12 at Council.

This is all an an example of how we the public are being hoodwinked.

Regarding the Southlands (a hot topic regarding a development  proposal on Agricultural Land Reserve land in Tsawwassen — formerly Spetifore lands), and Delta Mayor Lois Jackson’s attempts to use legislation to mute public communication with elected officials a citizen has written this (excerpt): Mayor Jackson wishes to stop people asking candidates for Council about their position on the Southlands proposal. This at a time when there is no formal application yet, or even any idea of a public hearing about a nebulous bylaw as yet to be discussed. This is a blatant attempt to protect those members of Council, including herself, from the rigors of being questioned as to their policies. It is worth reminding her that after the November 2011 election is called there are only candidates, and existing council members and mayor are merely candidates again. [This appears to be a] gag order supported by a legal opinion from a lawyer employed by the Municipality using our tax dollars. This yet another move by her to stop the expression of opinion. Cancelling public hearings, engaging in secret talks at Metro about the sewage agreement for development in our area, etc. It is time she realizes that she is a public servant, paid by us, and not some autocrat. Free speech is a precious Canadian entitlement, and not the property of angry politicians.

MetroVanWatch comment on this latter topic: A prominent municipal lawyer has already commented on Metro Vancouver’s (and most municipal governments’) common claim that BC legislation prohibits elected officials from communicating with the public in connection with a topic coming before a public hearing here:
https://metrovanwatch.wordpress.com/learning-centre/legal-opinion-use-of-public-hearing-to-block-communication/

REERENCES: See correspondence below (citizen, Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, Metro Vancouver staff), and article in Delta Optimist (21-Sept-2011)

Delta Optimist article on Southlands, use of legislation to mute public interactions with elected officials (21-Sept-2011). Click to enlarge.

On Tsawwassen First Nation, Metro Vancouver, Sewage: Citizen to Delta Mayor Lois Jackson

Metro Vancouver staff response

Citizen back to Delta Mayor Lois Jackson

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