9. A Plea for Truth

An open letter to Richmond City Council:

This is a request to council to ensure that the public is able to receive correct information. When staff are changing the meaning of council decisions, it must be time for council to act for democracy to function in Richmond.

The information about the Garden City Lands on the City website at http://www.richmond.ca/services/planning/projects/gardencitylands.htm is significantly faulty. I will paste in a key excerpt below my signature. The following points are based on that excerpt and on the open house display boards, which are related:

1.       The four Council resolutions passed at the special meeting of Dec. 17 are significantly different from the three “Council actions” that are stated on the website, even though the two lists should be identical. (All that was needed was the exact wording of the actual four resolutions, yet it was changed, and one resolution was even eliminated.)

2.       Specifically, the wording “Richmond uses” for the Garden City Lands was crucial. To replace fuzzy wording with unambiguously strong wording, Linda Barnes had specifically changed the wording from “preferred uses” to “Richmond uses” via a friendly amendment, and Sue Halsey-Brandt had indicated in the discussion that she could not have supported the resolution about uses if that amendment had not occurred. The public is therefore being misinformed by both the web page (if anyone can find it) and the open house display boards, http://www.richmond.ca/__shared/assets/GardenCityLandsBoards19329.pdf,  which also went back from “Richmond uses” to “intended” and “preferred.” The effect is that the public isn’t even being allowed to learn what our elected politicians unanimously decided (by 9-0 votes).

3.       In the context of Council’s Dec. 17 special meeting that centred on the block application to remove the Garden City Lands from the ALR, council’s unanimous, unambiguous resolution about three Richmond uses indicates the three uses to be stated to the Agricultural Land Commission in that application. It is very important to note that the trade and exhibition centre is not one of those three Richmond uses. However, the open house display boards (at least as of the open houses on Feb. 8-11) are still expressing the trade and exhibition centre as a possible use. The public is being misinformed.

4.       Since a  trade and exhibition centre is not one of the Richmond uses that will be presented to the Agricultural Land Commission, it can never be a use for the lands unless Richmond behaves in an incredibly unethical way. The unethical behavior would consist of stating three ALR-friendly Richmond uses that the commission would certainly approve of and then (if the application succeeds) using a large part of the land for a huge convention centre that the commission would be far less likely to approve of.

5.       Since the City is not incredibly unethical, the “TEC Lands” (the lands that might have been used for a trade and exhibition centre) will be split between City and the limited partners (Canada Lands CLC and Musqueam). That results in the City’s lands being 42.5% (if the City ever gets them) and the limited partners’ lands being 57.5% (prior to the small park dedication adjustment). The display boards at the open houses misinformed the public by stating that the City would get half the lands, when in fact the limited partners “half” will be 1.35 times as large as the City’s “half” (57.5% divided by 42.5% = 1.35). In acreage terms, the CLC-Musqueam’s “half” that would be over 78 acres is not equal to the City’s “half,” which would be less than 58 acres.

My deep involvement in the Garden City Lands issue has, at a fundamental level, been an effort to enable citizens to have access to the truth even though there have been major factors stopping them from learning the truth. Despite all those efforts, which represent a huge amount of community service by one citizen, the people of Richmond are still being prevented from learning the truth.

Regardless of particular council members’ positions on the issues, I’m asking every one of you to genuinely stand up for providing citizens with the truth, starting by rectifying the untruths I’ve addressed in this message. 

Regards,
Jim Wright

______________________________________________________

Excerpt from City website 

On December 17, 2007, Richmond Council took the following actions:

·         Agreed to submit a City-initiated “Block Application” to exclude the Garden City Lands from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC);

·         Endorsed funding the equivalent of full interest on the $10 million Agricultural Endowment Fund established by the CLC and Musqueam, for up to a maximum 10 year period while the endowment is being collected from development of the CLC & Musqueam portion of the Garden City Lands

·         Provided clarification of the City’s intended uses on the City’s portion of the Garden City Lands, endorsing Community Wellness and Enabling Healthy Lifestyles, Urban Agriculture, and Showcasing Environmental Sustainability as the preferred amenity uses for the City’s portion of the Garden City Lands.

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