Tuesday, March 15, 2011

OCP should go to referendum-make it an election issue

The Official Community Plan currently under draft and review in the District of North Vancouver should go to referendum. If it is promoted thoroughly in the next seven months and included on this Novembers municipal election ballot, it can't cost the taxpayer that much more and we will have a chance of real democracy on this issue. It also would not significantly delay the decision on the OCP. Let the people have a say at election time when it can be assumed local political issues are at a peak.

Low turnout numbers plague municipal elections but, surely they are larger numbers than the approximately 4000 that have participated in the OCP so far, I being one of them. Why should these 4000 people have the final say in this long term plan that that is so important to the community?

In my opinion most people in the District of North Vancouver live here or moved here because they like it the way it is and they are not interested in having their neighbourhoods of Lynn Valley, Parkgate, Edgemont and others supplanted with high rise buildings.

Perhaps the current District council is instead only really interested in shoving through this OCP with a minority, making themselves look good, and then focusing on getting themselves re-elected.


Barry Rueger said...

Hi John, many of us moved here because we love being near the mountains and forests, but also appreciate that increased density will bring increased services, businesses, and jobs.

Besides, people always have the option of voting out the whole darned council if they don't like what's happening.

John Sharpe said...

Voting out the whole darn council is an unlikely event given past voting patterns. Not going to happen. Council knows that.

Having this on the table at election time might create more interest and bring people out in larger numbers to vote. Then voting them out is within the realm of possibility.

If council is worth their salt, they could wait until November and add a referendum to the ballot.

Let the people decide on this OCP.

Anonymous said...

John, what makes you think that the majority would vote against this version of the OCP? In my experience it is a vocal minority that opposes these things.

John Sharpe said...

From what I've seen so far, this "vocal minority"(the regulars; friends of council, developers, council watchers, nimbys, 'prominently engaged citizens' etc.), have been showing up to all the meetings and essentially forming the OCP.

I'm suggesting to let the larger majority at election time have the decision one way or another.

Barry Rueger said...


How would you communicate the details of the OCP - no small bit of work - in a way that would ensure that the bulk of the population that already aren't paying attention will understand it?

Isn't it likely that you're creating a situation where a bunch of woefully uniformed people vote based on whatever makes the front page of the North Shore news?

Anonymous said...

Well done Barry R! Both comments are pretty well right on. There's just not enough broadbased local interest in the details of the proposed OCP to justify a referendum.

John, you're well-intentioned and working hard at trying to be inclusive on this matter but it's just not realistic. Thanks.

Griffin said...

The "public" has been given enormous opportunity for input on the new OCP yet it is like pulling teeth to get them out to a meeting to review its details. My feeling is that people aren't that concerned, and don't feel they will be particularly impacted by any changes put forth. Whether that's true or not is beside the point. Apathy rules, or its the tyranny of the urgent that overrides anything else. And until something is proposed across the road or down the block that is now within the parameters of the new OCP, they will stay at home blissfully unaware of what might be possible in their neighbourhood(s). I don't encourage this attitude but it is what we're faced with in municipal matters. People have so many more things to deal with that are more important in the here and now that they just can't take on any more. Which is often why these changes to the status quo slip through. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Amalgamation is far more likely than a completely new council and while both would be beneficial neither is likely to happen!

Lyle Craver said...

When talking to people about local matters the overwhelming sentiment I hear expressed is that people don't think their voice is being heard so why should they speak up?

The problem is that while there is lots of opportunity for input there are way too many times when the public does speak up yet a Councillor says "I move the staff recommendation".

Occasionally public input does make a difference but I am cynical about the OCP process as I just don't see it being reflected in the drafts.

What I do see is lots of "Hall" jargon about equity and inclusiveness and not a whole lot about delivery of services and accountability to taxpayers.

Next Monday District Council votes on accepting Metro Vancouver's answer to an OCP which is even less accountable than District's.

I think Council IS trying to change the way District does business with its public and I am encouraged by what I'm hearing from Dave Stuart but it's not nearly enough. The Mayor reads this high level of apathy as a high level of public satisfaction which I think is completely wrong.

In particular it's worst among the young like my son who told me "I know you care about this stuff but why should I given your generation has benefitted by high housing prices so that I can't live here once I leave home. Why SHOULD I care if I can't afford to live here?"

John Sharpe said...


Good question.

They did it in the 1996 election, why couldn't they do it in 2011?

John Sharpe said...

Also I'm not the only one who thinks this might be a good idea. The following is a recent letter to the NSNews editor. They make some good points.

Put DNV growth to referendum

By Tina Childs, North Shore News February 23, 2011

Dear Editor:

A few weeks ago I attended an information meeting at the Holiday Inn about the proposed Official Community Plan for the District of North Vancouver. At that meeting, the planners went all out to convince us of the wisdom and the necessity to plan for an additional 20,000 residents to be living in the district by 2020. Their rationale was twofold:

1) As older residents retire, they want to move from their single family detached homes into condominiums, therefore the district has to ensure an adequate supply of condominiums is available.

2) As additional high-density developments are introduced, district finances will improve without the necessity to increase taxes.

Regarding the first rationale: It is well known that there is no indigenous population growth in the district. Every year, there is a natural rotation of older people vacating condos as they pass away, and other older people moving into these condos after they have sold their homes to younger people. There is no need to suddenly build a whole lot of condominiums to accommodate older people wanting to retire in the district. Furthermore, the city is going flat out to add to the stock of available condominiums, so there is no need for the district to jump on that bandwagon.

Regarding the second rationale: There are other ways to improve the district's finances. It is well known that some 90 per cent of the district's expenses are wages and salaries. If a no-growth philosophy were embraced, entire departments could be scaled down through attrition. Planners love growth. It justifies ever increasing numbers of them. Much the same is true of the engineering department. And, of course, developers are always pushing for growth!

At these recent OCP meetings, the commitment to growth was presented as something inevitable, as if ordained from above. The people were given a thick, almost 30 pages, questionnaire, but the key question was missing: "Do you want this kind of growth to be encouraged and facilitated in the district?"

This kind of growth, along with all the congestion and pollution it will bring, will only take place if we choose to have it. It is not a law of nature.

The time has come to have a referendum on this issue.

Tina Childs

North Vancouver

© Copyright (c) North Shore News

Anonymous said...

Her logic is deeply flawed on the first point, the population is aging and this turn over she speaks of can clearly be demonstrated as coming to an end.

Anonymous said...


Re: your comment March 15: 10:36 PM

"...increased density will bring increased services, businesses, and jobs."


It will only bring more traffic and pollution. The roads in the DNV cannot take more traffic. And we cannot take more pollution!

Tax gains are short term. Infrastructure costs, crime, fires, etc. nail the taxpayer for much more than the developers walk home with.

Anonymous said...

"The Mayor reads this high level of apathy as a high level of public satisfaction which I think is completely wrong."

The Mayor is right.

I have attended at least as many council meetings as anyone posting here.

The meetings that are very well attended typically have subject matter that directly and intimately effects the attendees. Once the emotions are vented and the matter is decided we rarely see them again.

For the most part, the majority are happy to sit back and let council, the special interest groups, committees and a few independent keeners look after things.

Also, those that don't attend ALWAYS rationalize their lack of participation as someone else's "fault". It's not.

If you don't want to attend and participate then don't complain about the decisions of city hall.


Anonymous said...

Pole not Poll? John, you should know better than that. Tsk.

(see today's NS News Letters)

Anonymous said...

This would need to be reviewed, but wouldn't passing it in a referendum make it infinitely harder to revise if unintended effects occur? A bylaw is revisable by Council at any time, if it is done in a referendum, there needs to be another full referendum to change it.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what the NIMBYs want.

Mocrael said...

Trevor Lautens wrote in his NS News column, this past Friday:

"Official Community Plan (OCP), definition: A set of inflexible municipal rules instantly dissolved by money."

He was writing about DWV, but this definition could just as easily apply to DNV. Why bother? If this Council is in for the next three years, how is it going to change things. Many other plans are cut with the same template of "municipal inflexibility", unless... well you get the picture.

I wish we COULD vote the whole darn Council out, too, John, but that ain't gonna happen anytime soon, unless they would like to voluntarily step down to make way for some new blood? Very highly unlikely, eh? Too bad. Voter apathy will continue its downward spiral. That's the sad fact!

Anonymous said...


Just found one....

Anonymous said...

All I can say is this: Mocreal, John Sharpe and Lyle Craver, If you think you could do a better job than the current council then get ready to run in the election this fall. There is no point musing about wiping out the council if you are unwilling to run as a suitable alternative to the council.

Can anyone confirm Tina Childs' comment "It is well known that some 90 per cent of the district's expenses are wages and salaries"?

I think wages and salaries are below %60 of the budget. Fuel, Heat, Materials, debt repayment from the LV Library, account for a significant portion of the operations budget, let alone the capital side of the budget.

Anonymous said...

Let's do it! Monica, John, Lyle, George, David, etc. Let's run for DNV Council as a team. We will succeed.

Anonymous said...

I have attended many of the OCP meetings in the Lower Capilano area around the village center, my opinion, the meetings were not held to ask for resident input, the meetings were held so planners can say "we designed the village based on resident input".

The design charrette that the three original options for the village center came out of was, in my opinion, a charade, not a charrette. It was an exercise in leading the uniformed.

If the planning department came up with the three designs presented in the two days after the charrette as they say, then shame on them. Two days to design as important a development as that? It's not difficult to see that didn't actually happen.

I say send the OCP to a referendum - if nothing else to wake people up (sadly maybe that will never happen). And while you've never heard from me on this blog, I believe I am one of a few of the informed majority who is fast realizing that it's better to be involved than not. (Too bad there are so many that don't have this same epiphany :))

It's a real shame so many people simply don't get involved because they feel Council and staff don't listen to residents. After the process I just experienced, that is my exact sentiment.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I only signed on for that last comment as anonymous as I want my google account to remain such while I work on a school blog project... I should have signed...