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.