MetroVanWatch is re-posting this media release from the Burnaby First Coalition (BFC, www.burnabyfirst.ca), which hopes to unseat the incumbent Mayor Derek Corrigan and his Burnaby Citizen’s Association (BCA, www.burnabycitizens.ca), which currently hold all seats on Burnaby City Council. Readers across the region will find it interesting to see the list of donors to Corrigan’s 2011 election campaign, and note that many of them are active across jurisdictions in the Metro Vancouver region. Again, the theme of political donations comes to the forefront.
If reelected, Corrigan’s regional influence will continue to be significant. He has chaired Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning Committee for years, and he has considerable influence, as witnessed in the regional public hearing for the Southlands development in Tsawwassen, when he single-handedly turned the tide, leading to narrow approval of the application. He also has a history of blocking public access to Metro Vancouver officials. Thus, he, his party, and his donors require more scrutiny from citizens regionwide.
Official info for Burnaby voters: http://www.burnaby.ca/Our-City-Hall/Elections.html
MEDIA RELEASE BY BURNABY FIRST COALITION
Tower developers’ donations buy elections after Burnaby council quintupled density
Burnaby – November 4, 2014 – The Burnaby First Coalition (BFC) has learned that corporate donations to the Burnaby Citizen’s Association (BCA) in the 2011 election totaled $89,200, mostly from tower developers building mega-projects in the city. These donations have not been reported previously in the media.
The developers’ donations followed council’s adoption in December 2010 of a so-called bylaw ‘text amendment’ that quintupled allowable maximum density and cleared the way for towers up to 70 storeys high without due process and public input.
At an August meeting with BFC, City staff stated that the increased density is “definitely not developer driven” and that Burnaby has the most transparent planning department in BC.
However, the Globe and Mail called the pace of Burnaby’s development “blistering” and a “dream situation” for developers. Don Forsgren, President of Intracorp – which got the first tower permit and gave the BCA $2500 – was quoted saying, “You don’t have to negotiate with [Burnaby]”. Bosa gave $4500; President, Daryl Simpson echoed the sentiment that it’s easier to do business in Burnaby: “Certainly we have good relationships with all municipalities, but Burnaby is a great place to do business. Is it easier than Vancouver? Yes it is, actually. Vancouver is more complicated, no question. But the City of Burnaby makes it easier.”
It is unclear in the public records at City Hall if the corporate donations are part of $118,785 recorded as donated from the BCA to the BCA, or if these are additional amounts.
Council’s Christmas time 2010 vote was passed quietly. Bland official notices in the newspapers about the public hearing on the text amendment in newspapers gave no details. No notices were sent to affected residents. As a result, no one representing the public spoke at the hearing.
Worse, the vote stipulated amending city plans and holding wide public consultations starting “immediately”, but Council has yet to do so, explaining that staff are too busy.
The vote increased maximum density for high rises from 2.2 to 5.0 Floor Area Ratio (FAR). However BFC learned after probing city planners at the August meeting that maximum density is actually 11 FAR because city hall allows residential and commercial FAR to be added together. Although this so-called “additive” aspect of density is not stated in zoning bylaws: it is “implied” according to City staff.
The BFC gathered the information from records at the City Clerk’s office. Unlike some cities, Burnaby does not post this information on-line and requires interested individuals to go to city hall in person. Staff refused to photocopy the few pages, and attempted to prevent one individual from photographing the documents with a cellular phone.
A March 23, 2012 article in the Burnaby Now – detailed donations in the 2011 election from unions amounting to over $100,000, but did not mention money from developers. It is not known if this was an omission by the newspaper, or if the BCA failed to submit the documents detailing these donations before the deadline for election finance disclosure.
“The secrecy stinks. The current mayor and council are addicted to developers’ donations. BFC is not controlled by corporate or union donors – we have none,” says Shakila Jayachandran, BFC council candidate and BFC Treasurer.
PARTIAL LIST OF CORPORATE DONORS TO BCA – FULL LIST AT
- Bosa – $4500 – numerous large tower projects including 4 towers up to 61 storeys at Solo in Brentwood which was rejected by the Advisory Planning Commission. $1000 of this included in original documents listed as ‘trade union’.
- Shape – $5000 – Lougheed and Brentwood Mall redevelopment
- Intracorp – $2500 – Metrotown Beresford St towers project – first super-size tower approved
- Boffo Development – $2500
- Embassy Development – $2000
- Polygon – $2500
Anthem Properties – $2500 – Metrotown Station Square 5 tower project which was rejected by the BCA’s Advisory Planning Commission
- Amacon Management – $2500
- Adera Development – $2500
- Westwood Ridge Development – $4000
- AB Metro Properties – $4000
- McAllister Development – $6000
- CEWE – $4000
- 3787 Canada Way Development – $10,000
- Inspire Group Development – $5000
- Gur Kirpa Holdings – $5000
- Third Properties Lim – $5000
- Bonny’s Taxi – $3000 – holds contract with School District worth nearly $255,000
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