Day to Reynolds: “Get over it.”

This post is by Richmond School Board Trustee Carol Day, who has also served as events coordinator for the Garden City Lands Coalition. It expands on the recent “Sabre rattling” post in this blog. Also, the Richmond Review has a concise letter by Shane McMillan on the same topic.

Musqueam Indian Band lawyer Jim Reynolds is quoted at length in a recent Richmond Review article, “City obligated to back Garden City development.” The Garden City Lands are not going to come out of the ALR, and it is time for Reynolds to get over it. Now is the time for the City to renegotiate with the Musqueam and the Canada Lands Company.

Mr. Jim Reynolds states that “Musqueam intends to keeps its word, and expects no less of Richmond and each of the individual councillors. They approved the MOU, and they’re expected to keep their word.” The City has kept its word, recommending and applying for ALR exclusion and twice extending the ALR exclusion deadline in the purchase agreement. The Councilors have a duty to represent the people of Richmond, and the people of Richmond have spoken loud and clear. They want the Garden City lands to remain in the ALR.

Maybe it is time for Mr. Reynolds to read the MOU, and l direct him to section 1(19). It states that “The city will have a right of first offer in the event that Musqueam and the CLC decide not to implement its plans of land development, but instead to sell any of the Joint Venture lands prior to servicing, or Musqueam decides not to implement its plans of land development, but instead to sell any of the Musqueam lands prior to servicing.”

The lack of ALR exclusion ultimately makes the Garden City Lands unavailable for development, so, as the MOU states clearly, Richmond has the right of first offer.

Regarding litigation, the MOU states in section 2(1) “If the Parties are unable to resolve the dispute themselves, they may seek the assistance of Bob Plecas to mediate, in which case the costs of the mediation will be shared equally by the parties participating in the mediation.” So there is an agreement in place to move forward with the MOU and find a reasonable compromise with all parties involved. Mr. Jim Reynolds states “It would be unfortunate if three or four years later now we may be heading back into litigation.” He also says “but l’ll leave them and their lawyers to work that one through.” Why are the Musqueam putting their faith in a lawyer when in fact a mediator would be a better alternative at this point?

At least one condition in the MOU has failed because the Garden City Lands have not been removed from the ALR, so the time has come for the Musqueam, Canada Lands company and the City of Richmond to work out a new arrangement. The MOU states in section 1(5) that “CLC will pay the federal Crown $5 million dollars of the $9.54 million dollars and will provide a promissory note in the amount of $ 4.54 million dollars.” A price has been set for the lands, and that is a great place for the parties to start at. The Musqueam will end up with a large cash settlement that, in these economically troubled times, will be very fair. The Canada lands Company will have an opportuniy to dispose of the lands for the benefit of the citizens of Richmond and the Musqueam.

If in the end the Musqueam and Canada Lands Company do not want to enter into mediation or negotiation, then the MOU further states in section 1(22) that “the parties will cooperate in making whatever arrangements are necessary to restore each party to the position that it was in prior to entering into this MOU.” I feel this is a lost opportunity for the Musqueam, but if that is what they want then we the people of Richmond will move forward to acquire all the Garden City lands from the federal government.

We are able to move forward because both MP John Cummins and MP Alice Wong have stated publicly that they will work with the federal government to facilitate for Richmond to acquire the Garden City Lands. But even if this process takes 20 years, that is better than 13,000 more people living on this priceless bog and destroying it forever. Patience is the key in turbulent times, and the people of Richmond would rather wait for the right outcome than a bad one.

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