Public Hearing Turns Into Gong Show

Tuesday May 24’s Public Hearing for the 18th and Commercial Cressey project ended abruptly when Councilors De Genova, Carr, Ball, and Affleck stormed out in protest over a ruling made by acting Mayor Raymond Louie allowing Councilor Stevenson to defer his vote on Item #3 and send it back to staff for further information on the tree issue.

When Louie allowed Stevenson to make a motion to send the matter back to staff until July for further information, Carr objected, saying she had been ruled out of order several times in the past for trying to do the same thing during a vote. De Genova agreed. Louie consulted with the City Clerk, then, bizarrely, asked Assistant Director of Planning Kent Munro what to do. Munro declined to answer, stating he would rather rely on the City Clerk’s experience in procedure for Council meetings.

Louie then called a vote on his ruling and declared that it stood. He then called on Ball to vote and she immediately began to pound the table, angrily shouting that she agreed with Carr and De Genova that his ruling was wrong. At that point the four non-Vision councilors stood up and beat a hasty exit from Chambers.

The City Clerk declared no quorum and adjourned the meeting. The vote was never completed.People in the audience, including staff were shaking their heads in amazement at what they had just witnessed.

Planner Yardley McNeil said she had never seen anything like it in all her years with the City.  Nobody knew what is going to happen next.

What precipitated all this is anybody’s guess, but for fans of conspiracy theories, consider that Vision had only three councilors present, not a majority on the night, and having everything unravel as it did prevented this pet IRP project from being defeated.  However NPA/Green could have stayed on, defeated Stevenson’s motion to defer, then defeated the project if they had stayed. Were they afraid to do that? Beats me.  Add to the mix the fact that the live feed of the final few minutes where the Councilors walked out somehow got deleted. Too bad all Council meetings aren’t this interesting.

Stay tuned, we’re still waiting to find out if the hearing will be reconvened with the same Councilors, reconvened with a reconstituted Vision majority, or scrapped and a new hearing scheduled.

The Georgia Straight article on the debacle here.

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About leechap

A Community Sympathiser
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2 Responses to Public Hearing Turns Into Gong Show

  1. BrianBruise says:

    I don’t think they necessarily planned it ahead of time, but the three NPA councillors realized after listening to the speakers that they were in an awkward position of either (a) voting with Vision and keeping in the good graces of their developer donors and alienating an articulate group of vocal voters or (b) voting against the motion with Carr, in effect killing the proposal and forcing Cressey to go back to square one and mightily pissing off the developer community.

    It seems the likely end result here is that the Public Hearing will reconvene and if legally possible the previously absent Vision councillors will attest that they have viewed the video and listened intently to all the speakers, had read all the submissions and vote this through. The NPA councillors either being conveniently absent or to look “unbiased” split their votes, one for the proposal and two against.

    Or, God help us, they will start the Public Hearing process again from scratch and as our bearded and pony-tailed friend said, we’ll have to sully ourselves once again in a horrible nightmare of real deja vu.

    In the meantime, let us not let the Philistines get us down.

  2. BrianBruise says:

    I wonder what the legal implications are that Vision councillors who were absent at the hearing are allowed to vote on the proposal without having heard the objections of the majority of speakers and likely not read the written submissions. Listening to those speakers at a Public Hearing being the very essence of the democratic process under scrutiny here because of this fiasco.

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