Setting OUR record straight

Along with important matters, this letter answers some unfair Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt comments. The Richmond Review received it three days ago. Let’s hope they do Richmond a service and print it.

Editor:

Thanks for the food for thought about the Garden City Lands in the March 18 Review.

Thanks first for Chief Ernie Campbell’s online commentary on the purchase-deal process. Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt had claimed the city’s offer was “immediately” accepted, but the chief’s evidence shows Musqueam acceptance 96 days later. Humpty Dumpty once said “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean,” but that’s only okay in fairy tales. In reality, “immediately” means “right away.”

Thanks also for the input from Roy Oostergo. His community service is well known, and I think our goals are closer than he realizes.

Less thanks for the councillor’s letter. Only six months ago, I said this in the Review: “Kudos to Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt for refusing to ‘fix’ what isn’t broken. She held firm in responding to proposed clamps on citizen input at public hearings. . . .” I feel let down.

The councillor views the Garden City Lands consultation process as “commandeered.” In reality, a consortium of powerful parties was bent on dense development of a protected 136-acre green space in Richmond’s city centre, and we citizens slowly awakened to the threat. Alone and in small groups and then as a coalition, we fought back. With many hundreds of volunteer-service hours, we turned back waves of propaganda. The lands were saved—until the next battle. It was something to celebrate, not denigrate.

The councillor disputes my account of what she and her spouse said at a council meeting on Dec. 8, 2008, about paying Walmart-property value for the Garden City Lands. In reality, I had used due diligence. Beyond my memory, my source was a blog post published soon after that event. Just google the phrases “Garden City lands” and “fair market value” to read it.

Crucially, Chief Campbell says that the Musqueam never stopped intending to develop the Garden City lands; however, he adds, they “were forced to accept the offer.” A key factor was the city supposedly giving up trying to get the lands out of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). At odds with that, the Halsey-Brandt couple’s suggested uses for the lands imply that the city will try to get them out when it owns them. Ethics aside, that conflicting step could flirt with legal disaster.

If the couple is hell-bent on a costly unneeded referendum, the ballot question should at least be more honest: “Should the Garden City Lands remain green in the Agricultural Land Reserve foragricultural, ecological, and open-land park uses for community wellness, rather than be used largely for dense development.” If most people say NO, the consequence should be that the chief and his partners can reverse the sale and proceed with their development plans. I think most people will say YES and keep the lands green.

Jim Wright
President, Garden City Lands Coalition Society

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    kewljim Says:

    Thank you to a reader who pointed out that a link in the above post was going to the wrong place. It has now been fixed. This blog gets far more comments by email than via the blog comment feature, and I sometimes try to get people to use blog comments more, but helpful comments are very welcome either way.


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