New Musqueam claim, Post 2

In the Musqueam Indian Band lawsuit view, Richmond supposedly failed when council turned down proposals from the city’s manager of planning that might have helped the band and its joint venture partner, Canada Lands Company CLC, to make millions from rezoning of the Garden City Lands.

For context, let’s go back to March 2005 and agreements between the federal government, CLC, the band, and the city. CLC, the federal land disposer, obtained title to the lands and was to get the Agricultural Land Commission to exclude the property from the ALR. The commission turned down CLC’s weak application.

Sadly, Richmond let itself be made the official applicant for a second attempt. CLC kept the project management role. They told city staff what to do, including how to “add to the ongoing illumination of some on City Council,” as a leaked memo from CLC’s project manager put it.

CLC moved slowly. When the second application finally reached the commission in April 2008, it was too gargantuan for a quick response.

Richmond’s manager of planning eventually learned that the commission was highly unlikely to approve the application. On December 8, 2008, he asked council to ratify proposals to increase the chances. (Here are the agenda and minutes.)

In that meeting, many citizens presented council with informed views. For instance, Roland Hoegler, Carol Day, and Arzeena Hamir scathingly critiqued a proposal that amounted to instant rezoning of the McLennan Area. One example is Roland Hoegler’s analysis of a tactic for consolidating lots: “What you are suggesting is that these property owners are willing to actively reduce their property values to 25% of their value.”

Another proposal passed on the commission’s enforcement duties to city staff. Coun. Harold Steves said, “Why would we want to accept downloading from the Agricultural Land Commission?” Coun. Sue Halsey-Brandt described such ideas as “a bit of a bribe.”

Councillors hadn’t even known that renegotiation and “side deals” were going on. Coun. Derek Dang said, “We’re basically asked to put a stamp on it, and that’s the part that bothers me. I mean, we don’t know about it pretty much until we see the papers that are in front of us.”

Responding to Coun. Dang, manager of planning Joe Erceg made a revelation about the proposals: “It’s not a case of the commission demanding them. It’s more a case of the city staff and our partners identifying them as measures which would enhance our chances of a successful decision.” Those partners were CLC and the band.

Council did not have to obey them. According to the Garden City Lands Coalition Society’s lawyer, the agreements could have been challenged if they had “fettered” council to vote in a predetermined way, but they actually left council free to vote in the best interests of the citizens. In a 9-0 vote, council rejected the proposals.

Now the band is suing Richmond because our council would not try to influence the Agricultural Land Commission with unacceptable tactics from CLC, the band, and staff. And the band blames us that CLC, its joint venture partner, didn’t manage its project well.

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