Girding for the “Walmart City” public hearing

This article has also been published as a Digging Deep column in the Richmond Review today, Nov. 15, 2013.

Here, an artist has overlaid the developers’ simulated mall on the viewscape. Note: Reality will be better than the composite in some ways and worse in others.

Here, an artist has overlaid the developers’ simulated mall on the viewscape. Note: Reality will be better than the composite in some ways and worse in others.

In the timeless words of Twisted Sister, “We’re not gonna take it! No, we ain’t gonna take it! We’re not gonna take it . . . anymore!”

You gotta hear it in your mind, so google it on video if need be. Then hum it on your way to the Walmart mall public hearing. It’s at City Hall on Monday, November 18, after 7 pm.

Why “after” and not “at” 7 pm? Walmart City needed its own public hearing date, but instead it’s last on a seven-hearing agenda. Not good, even if the others get rubber-stamped.

Back when it was easy to require changes, council members excused their non-action on key aspects by shifting responsibility to the community: “I want to hear what the public have to say.” Bovine manure! A council that wants to listen doesn’t make the public wait.

The developers can read, and the public would want me to forewarn them: “Don’t impose a drawn-out presentation—as you, with four city staff, did to wear down an advisory committee. Like council, we have your 153-page report (via Richmond.ca), so your group should need only ten minutes.”

For our part, let’s be thoughtful. We can take ten minutes each, but a concise minute can have impact. Unique insights are nice, but everyone’s view is important. Speaking notes are useful.

After you sit down, identify yourself by name and address. Then state whether you’re for or against the proposal to rezone from single-detached residential to mall use. Give reasons. (To see something similar, watch Shaw Cable 4 at 9:00 tomorrow morning, November 16.)

Unless you fully support it, say you’re opposed. You won’t wish to be counted under “Support” unless any changes you want get made.

At council, some citizens were asked to not criticize Walmart. Since the developers trumpet benefits, that’s like one standard for lords and another for serfs. Let’s be respectful equals.

Read “Speaking at a Public Hearing” at Richmond.ca. You’ll see ways to take part in writing or online—before the meeting. If you’re shy about speaking, submit your input first and then come to help show that people care. If you speak too, that’s fine.

For more on public hearings, see topics like “Procedure after a public hearing” in the Local Government Act.

For my part, I’m now opposed. Along with the killing of every tree in the mall area, I may focus on the viewscape aspect.

GCityViewscape

Before: A Michael Wolfe photo shows a natural viewscape from the Garden City Lands before the developers killed trees and piled sand on the Walmart mall site.

For mega-developer Polygon, with its Alexandra Court looking south over the mall, the mall developers will add a green parkade roof and living screens. But the Garden City Lands area on the other side just gets visual abuse. In place of natural viewscapes, it gets a mall-scape.

As well, Alexandra Court gets extra storeys. In the view from the lands, Polygon may block what Walmart spares.

Out citizens, especially City Centre ones, will be deprived of the wellness values of a wonderful legacy. Squandered.

On the bright side, Councillors Harold Steves and Chak Au have tried. Coun. Au even asked that the development permit for Alexandra Court be sent to the public hearing, as the Development Permit Guide allows. He was foiled.

But what inspired this column was the Mall*Wart sign that citizens put up at Alderbridge and Garden City Road. It was a sign of pent-up outrage—and from Asian-Canadians. Good!

Mall*Wart sign

With that kind of upbeat mindset, we can channel the public hearing into something better. “We’re not gonna take it. . . .

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