Southlands Public Hearing (Tsawwassen) Oct 28, 29, 30 – Coverage, reading, disclosure, surprises

(Updated 11 pm Oct 30) This controversial public hearing was held on October 28, Oct 29,  and Oct 30. According to the Delta Optimist, the hearing will reconvene at 3 pm on Friday, November 1.

On Twitter, the story is under the hashtag #southlands (see also #tsawwassen). See a detailed letter by long-term taxpayer/resident Greg Hoover here, outlining many critical issues. Below we will provide bits and pieces of material, much of it beyond what mainstream media are able to cover due to space or editorial constraints.

Report of Day 2 (Oct 29): There was a big turnout for the second night of the Public Hearing and still strong opposition to the development plan. By the end of the second night, 137 people had spoken – 80 opposed and 57 in favour (58% opposition). For people who signed the speaker’s list but missed their turn, organizers are re-calling missed numbers. When you show up, inform the Clerk you missed your spot and you will get a chance to speak. If you haven’t signed the list, add your name and when it’s your turn, you can even just indicate your position on the proposal

This is an issue of regional importance for all of Metro Vancouver (the GVRD). It is a test of how the new “Regional Growth Strategy” Bylaw functions, and how Metro Vancouver decision-making structures work. It is also a case study of how one of the municipalities in the region functions.

Media coverage (newest at top)

Download a printout of the Twitter feed for #southlands on October 28: Twitter _ Search – southlands, 11 pm on 28-Oct-2013a

Some useful references and links:

Note that an online webcast is NOT available through Delta’s webcasting system as the Public Hearing is being held off site at the South Delta Recreation Centre.

– See more at: http://www.corp.delta.bc.ca/EN/main/municipal/323/27003/southlands.html#sthash.DKhFVBGb.dpuf

Other materials will be added as it comes in, newest additions at the top.

One might wonder if Delta Mayor and Council have violated their Code of Ethics, item #4, “Respect for Process,” which includes the words “meaningful involvement of the public.” Search for the words of Mr. Duffey below, dated October 10, saying the “procedural decision is an insult,” in reference to tactics allowing the Corporation of Delta to ignore all correspondence received before the end of July on this Southlands application.

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Added 29-Oct-2013

We have learned that agrologist Wendy Holm formally offered her services to the Corporation of Delta, free of charge, for nine months, to work with B.C. universities to purchase the land and create an apprenticeship cooperative for young farmers. This would retain the Southlands as 100% agricultural, provide education for the farming community, and respect the wishes of the majority of Tsawwassen residents. To the best of our knowledge, Council did not respond.  It important to note that realistic opportunities and alternatives exist for the land that Delta politicians and staff are not considering, in favour of a proposal for housing on farmland that faces community opposition.

Direct link to Ms. Holm’s letter to Delta:
http://www.wendyholm.com/c.Delta.Council.re.Southlands.Oct11,2013.pdf

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Letter from Susan Jones, Delta resident, 29-Oct-2013

Century Industries is seeking to build pockets of dense, tall housing on the 537 acres of Southlands properties which are zoned for agriculture.  Century claims it will gift 80% of the land to Delta in return for dense housing on 20%.  However, these numbers are unclear as the plans for some of the buildings are on the so-called gifted land and can be leased back to the Developers.

You can email submissions opposing development on the farmlands in Delta, known as the Southlands.  The deadline is 9:30 PM Wednesday, October 30. Email: mayor-council@delta.ca

Mayor and Council, The Corporation of Delta:

Not only is this vast stretch of land valuable farmland, it also unique, critical habitat stretching from forested habitat across open fields to the foreshore of Boundary Bay.  It will be severely degraded and fragmented if it is cut up into parcels and it will be negatively impacted by housing and commercial developments.  Let’s not lose sight of the international significance of this area for migratory and resident birds.  Boundary Bay and the surrounding uplands are key components of the number one most Important Bird Area in Canada. 

Beware of developers bearing gifts.  A letter to Delta Council from the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture in June, 2013, lists concerns about Delta taking on the so-called gift of farmland.  There is scary information in this letter.  It reveals that the farmland will be transferred to Delta slowly over 30 years with the main transfer 30 years down the road.  It also reveals that there will be no net benefit to farming as 200 acres are already being farmed and only 206 acres of the gift will be farmed 30 years from now:

“Pg. 6 – The proposed transfer to Delta is 279.2 acres.  However, only 37 out of 49.3 acres in Phase I (pg.36), 42 out of 60 acres in Phase 2 (pg. 38), and 127.4 acres out of 169.8 acres in Phase 3 (30 years down the road) (pg. 38) would be farmable.  The plan does not mention how much of that total area would be needed for the connecting road between the two residential areas, or the irrigation ditches, so there may be even less farmable land.  The total farmed land in all three phases is 206.4 acres.  There is currently about 200 acres of the property leased to a local farmer(s).  Therefore, there is no net gain to the farmed area in Delta as a result of the Plan.”  

 The Ministry lists concerns about lack of sufficient information on drainage and irrigation needs.  There is no information on installation of tile drains and source, cost of irrigation water and maintenance.  Delta is supposed to do all the work on this.  Irrigation costs would be $7 million and drainage $6 million.   While the developer is offering $9 million in amenities, it is unclear when the money will be paid.  The money is needed up front, not over 3 phases over a period of 30 years.  Imagine adding all this to Delta taxes!  What makes Delta Council think it could farm this land?  This is no gift and Delta is way out of line taking this on.

The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture also warns that:  “We do not support the premise that the public will appreciate agriculture and become more involved……”

The Ministry reveals that the budget and projected revenues are not valid as the base information is critically out-of-date.  There will be innumerable additional costs to the taxpayers for roads, infrastructure, maintenance and amenities.  Delta taxpayers will be compelled to pay millions in tax dollars up front and an increase in ongoing costs of maintenance and staff time.   The so-called gift of farmland will be costly.  Why is Delta Council ignoring these warnings and even considering this rezoning of farmland.

Susan Jones,
Delta, B.C.

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From Peter Duffey, long time Delta resident, 25-Oct-2013.

This is a huge subject with many implications. If this bylaw passes will probably end up at Metro Vancouver for approval of the change in the green zone (urban containment boundary). It an UNSAFE area for development.
It is OVERDUE for the Province to adopt the existing draft guidelines for flood construction levels in the Metro region. 
Below is Mr. Duffey’s letter to Council. See also his prior submission to MetroVanWatch: Century’s Southlands proposed development in Delta is too risky: Peter Duffey

Southlands development bylaws Public Hearing- October 28 – 30  2013

I wish to record my opposition to bylaws 7271, and 7169.

There are many reasons for my opposition.

1.                  The current official community plan for Delta was updated recently after a very extensive public consultation. The Southlands property was confirmed to by Delta Council to remain as A1, agricultural designation and zoning.

2.                  This took place with the full knowledge by Council that the recommendation of the Tsawwassen Area Planning Committee was that the property should remain A1,

 This was made after a Council sponsored poll of the community by Ipsos Reid  indicated that a big majority of those replying stated  that the A1 designation and zoning should remain.

3.        The Metro Regional Growth Strategy,   after input from Delta, passed into law with the Urban Containment Boundary showing the Southlands property to be outside this boundary, and as agricultural.

4.      Further to this, when Delta recently filed the required Context Statement update to Metro face again confirmed the Southlands property to be outside the Urban Containment Boundary. This was done by Delta with full knowledge that Century Industries wished to develop their property on the Southlands.

Listed below are some of the many reasons why these bylaws should be rejected.

A. The need for an additional 950 housing units has not been demonstrated. There is already being planned or under construction a large variety of housing types in the South Delta area which will already exceed the growth targets in the Regional Growth Strategy.

B.  The proposed development is on a floodplain. The development proposal is in a very high-risk area for liquefaction in the event of an earthquake. (The insurance industry of Canada has recently identified the V4L postal code area as one of very high risk of liquefaction).

C. The construction details that are published in bylaw 7169 do not provide adequate protection against the expected sea level rise by 2100. They do not conform to recommendations by Provincial consultants and draft guidelines, or even to those recommended by consultants employed by Delta. If this development goes ahead as envisaged he will be most unwise. Future residents will be put at risk because of an unsafe construction design.

D.  The absence of any certainty about building size, location, appearance, etc, and possibility that this development may be modified with many variable mixes of houses and commercial buildings because of market conditions can be likened to building on shifting sand. The final result may bear no resemblance to the architects watercolour sketches. The absence of adequate parking is alone a reason for rejection.

E.   The adoption of a Phased Development Agreement suddenly at the last minute is an insult to the community. Much more notice should have been provided for adequate study of bylaw 7271, which contains many commitments which would require public support and understanding. The lack of a public information meeting to explain why this type of agreement has become necessary, and the possibility of alternate steps to protect the community, and the democratic process should be explored and explained.

The fact that the developer may have requested this type of agreement does not necessarily mean that the community or its representative Council should accept it.

F.  I do not believe that the financial commitment for Delta residents has been adequately portrayed or researched in this proposal. In particular the future cost of maintenance of the land and property that would be transferred to Delta ownership needs much more investigation.

G.  The disturbance of communities during this proposed development would be         very considerable. Noise, pollution, traffic congestion, and health risks would be involved. It is well documented that diesel PM is carcinogenic. There may be dispute about how many trucks will be necessary, but Delta’s own assessment gives a minimum of 60,000 truckloads of fill, or 120,000 journeys, plus the volume of traffic that will be generated by construction vehicles. This latter factor seems to have been completely ignored.

In conclusion I would like to say that the amount of taxpayers funds that Council and staff have spent with regard to the development of the Southlands needs to be revealed. It is clear that many in the community feel that Council has been supporting the facilitation of this development and deliberately ignoring the continual evidence that the community does not want this to happen.

I urge you to reject these bylaws.

 Peter Duffey

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Delta resident Peter Duffey to Mayor and Council
Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 10:54 AM
To: ‘mayor-council@delta.ca’
Subject: BC government advice. We should not build on a flood plain

Please note the professional advice in this B.C. government-sponsored study that development should be avoided on floodplains. This clearly applies to Southlands.
[Title – Sea Level Rise & Coastal Flood Hazard Land Use Guidelines, by HB Lanarc-Golder, 19-Oct-2011. Download: PDF Sea Level Rise]

Note carefully the chart that shows building life against sea level rise. The conclusion is obvious. The 2100 rise in sea level forecast at Boundary Bay (1.2m) is very significant.

If you approve the proposed flood construction level of 4.2 m in the idea that this will protect a development on the Southlands until only 2050 this raises vital questions.

  1. The building life of this development will range from perhaps 2014 to 2034 start dates (The term of the proposed Phased Development Agreement) then for long after 2050. Building life could extend to 2134. Why does this bylaw fail to address this situation?
  2. What professional justification and reasoning have led your staff to approve this bylaw?
  3. Do you think that the construction plan would be safe for future residents?
  4. Why are you even considering a construction on this floodplain, and also bearing in mind the firm information that it is at very high risk of seismic liquefaction in the event of the statistically overdue big earthquake.
  5. Why have you not updated Delta’s flood construction level guidelines and regulations?

Peter Duffey

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Peter Duffey, on tactics by Century Holdings and Corporation of Delta, 10-Oct-2013

See the attached pages from the Delta web site about the oncoming Southlands Public Hearing. [Note – pages not available.]

Please note that all the previous hundreds if not thousands of public letters for and against this development will not have any status on the public record unless they are resubmitted. This implies that all the analysis made before July 30 2013 is worthless. The binders in the public libraries are included of course. There will be no requirement for Council to consider these, as they will no longer be on the public record of the Hearing.

This procedural decision is an insult to the many people who have sent in so many intelligent and reasoned inputs after the public information meeting, Council Reports, and other information from Delta Council.

The rescinding of the bylaw passed on July 29, to be replaced by the new latest Phased Development Agreement bylaw has produced an intolerable load on the community. The very volume of the new bylaw and its content requires intensive study, and without doubt a legal opinion and summary from other that Delta staff or Century.

In addition all the Delta Advisory Committees did not have sight of the new bylaw at their last meeting.

The public had been misled. The Public Hearing should be postponed and a new Public Information Meeting convened.

The new bylaw contains many substantial clauses of great significance which have never been published previously.

Further to this, on Monday October 6 Delta Council had a miniumu quorum, with Councillors MacDonald in Mexico, Councillor Bishop in Hawaii, and Councillor Hamilton absetn. It is doubtful if Councillor Kannakos, Paton, or Campbell have fully read the extremely voluminous bylaw and its provisions, and one wonder if this also applies to the Mayor.

This is democracy on the nod, and entirely unacceptable. The impracticability of obtaining re-submissions from residents has not been considered in the time scale available and with the volume of information now published that requires intensive study.

I think a formal complaint to all levels of government is in order, and a request to delay the Public Hearing.

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