Community input to council

The directors of the Garden City Lands Coalition Society made a thorough printed submission to Richmond council on Wednesday, September 30, 2009. The purpose was to provide expert community input into the Garden City Lands MOU contingency process, the stage that the City of Richmond and other Parties are now engaged in.

The main item was a colour-printed 16-page booklet for each council member. The directors also supplied three copies of the booklet for City staff and, on request, many more copies so that all senior staff could read it.

The booklet is confidential because it is advice to council related to confidential deliberations. However, the covering letter is not confidential. Along with contact information and niceties, the letter states:

On behalf of the Garden City Lands Coalition Society, we wish you success in the MOU contingency process. It is a complex challenge, but we believe Richmond council can enable a great result for the community that you—and we—serve.

We interact regularly with the coalition’s six hundred “Friends of Garden City,” so we know there is community desire to be involved. People want to hear how they can help save the Garden City Lands at the current stage. Rather than suggest they write to council, we have spent weeks bringing together one thorough message, the best we can offer.

Please give serious consideration to this community input. If you would like us to help further, we will be delighted to try.

In an envelope containing the booklet, each council member received the covering letter, addressed to the individual council member and individually signed by each of the six Garden City Lands Coalition Society directors.

Coun. Greg Halsey-Brandt sent back his package with a note: “I am returning this to the Society for safekeeping. Given the confidentiality of the paper it is best that the Society keep it as I would release it under a Freedom of Information request.” The directors responded to council with a further letter to explain that the responsibility to not release such advice is specifically addressed in paragraph 12(1) of BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie sent the society a thank-you letter in response to the submission. The society will provide further advice when requested and/or when there is an apparent need.

It was not necessarily essential for the council members and staff to receive the Garden City Lands Coalition advice, since they would undoubtedly have come up with at least some of it independently. What is more certain is that a course of action that is consistent with the coalition’s recommendations will succeed.

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