Sunday, February 17, 2013

City Bows to Anti-Highrise Voices; Changes Public Hearing Process

Today's North Shore News notes that the City of North Vancouver has revamped their rules for public hearings.  Although they will still allow pro-high-rise speakers to participate in public hearings, they did level the field in terms of registration and speaker order:
Under the new rules, anyone wishing to be on the speakers list for a public hearing must sign up in person. There will now be two signup sheets; one for people planning to speak in favour of a project and one for those opposed. Council will alternately call people from each list to prevent one side of the debate from dominating the meeting. The sign-up sheets will be available an hour and a half before the start time of every public hearing. Council also boosted the city clerk's overtime budget so staff can monitor the sign-up process on nights when large turnouts are expected.
 The NSN did not note what happens to people who feel they are neither pro nor con on any subject.

The fact remains that open public hearings almost never add anything useful to municipal discussions.  The real, serious analysis is always done behind closed doors.

40 comments:

John Sharpe said...


"The fact remains that open public hearings almost never add anything useful to municipal discussions. The real, serious analysis is always done behind closed doors."

Ain't that the truth.

George Pringle said...

Barry - Your comment "the high-rise speakers" focuses on one extreme example. The coming rules are due to Onni being manipulative, pompous and being caught.

With a Council with two and a half fact factions, all things can happen when they negotiate policy on the floor.

Like the now bankrupt Millennium Developments, Onni shot for the moon in their "want" attacking all who opposed them and then playing the victim when their manipulations failed.

The bottom line is they paid too much for the property and thought donating small amounts of money to some members of Council would buy them an approval.

You, John and I agree in our cynicism that most serious analysis is always done behind closed doors. But I think the world that I would prefer than where everything happens in public is not what you would support.

Anonymous said...

Well said George. It was not a question of "pro or anti-high rise", the Onni proposal was too much for too little. Too bad really that Don Bell's question about being able to question speakers was voted down. I think that is allowed in the District, also in West Van. There is no opportunity in the City to have a dialogue with Council apart from as a delegation - and that's hardly a dialogue. The 2 min public input is one-way only and there is an opportunity at the end of Council meetings, but rarely does anyone stay that late. But then the City doesn't really want to be bothered with the public.

Barry Rueger said...

There is no opportunity in the City to have a dialogue with Council apart from as a delegation - and that's hardly a dialogue.

Write a letter. E-mail. Phone. Call them up and schedule a face to face meeting. Donate to a campaign. Volunteer.

Anonymous said...

Barry,

You should change your picture to the one that shows you wearing your rose coloured glasses

George Pringle said...
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George Pringle said...
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George Pringle said...
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George Pringle said...

They should be holding long public hearings on two different days which would allow a Councillor with a question of a member of the public outside of the meeting.

Once a public hearing is concluded a member of Council cannot hear information. This way allows Councillors to reflect and consider on what they've heard and find get answers to questions they might have.

The current system puts them a room and applys time pressure on them.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad they voted down Clr. Bell's motion. In Vancouver, they allow questions from Council to presenters. If the issues are heated, it quite often results in a cross examination of the residents and not simply fact finding.

I like the way the DNV does it. Participants are advised that the purpose of the evening is to 'hear' the publics views, not engage in debate. If the public raises issues that councillors want more information about they are given an opportunity to ask clarifying questions from the staff.

The cross examination style certainly helps correct misinformation earlier than the Districts system, but it results in intimidation, tension and more cynicism.

It also kills the tempo of a hearing. In the recent Vancouver Parks Board hearing the marathon meeting ran 9 hours, and even though 70 had signed up to speak, only about 45 actualy spoke, most of the rest weren't still there when their names were called. If each speaker talks for ~4 minutes and then the board members can question them then you are only getting about 5-8 speakers in an hour, whereas the District system will usually have 10-15 speakers in an hour.

More people are heard, fewer people are intimidated.

northvancityvoices said...

There will be a test of the new process on March 11th. The Onni 2nd public hearing is coming up: details of the "revised" application are available at:

http://www.cnv.org/server.aspx?c=1&i=40

Briefly, the application has been amended since the first Public Hearing to:
- provide all vehicle and most truck loading access from 13th Street;
- increase residential tower and office building setbacks from Stella Jo Dean Plaza, 14th Street and the “Grande”; and
- Add green walls facing onto SJ Dean Plaza as per Council and design panel’s suggestion.


Anonymous said...

Dead plan walking?

Is this public hearing part of a new application?

I don't live in the city and don't really have an opinion on the Onni development, but it was very clear (from the cheap seats), that Onni engaged in politicking when they killed their project so publicly.

Yes they were frustrated, but they had a scorched earth policy when they took out ads in the newspaper decrying specific Councillors.

Supporter or not, they should be restarting from square one after that hissy fit.

Anonymous said...

George...you sound like an authority on the economics of the development. Instead of making vague and sweeping statements, why don't you run readers through the numbers to prove your points. In fact, I challenge you to and, if you can't, then your statements are hollow and should be left unsaid.

Anonymous said...

There has been plenty of analysis of the economics .. and the conclusion from multiple sources is that they're millions short of what the extra density is worth.

Anonymous said...

If you don't have the back-up and cannot put forward the numbers behind the analysis, then your points are moot....I would like to take your statements at face value but I don't trust you, so show me the numbers. I've also seen previous analyses done by observers and pundits and they aren't even close.

Anonymous said...

Bookham walks out on the Public Hearing this evening? Is she an adolescent? Who votes for this woman? I'd like to see her keep walking right out of the City and to never come back...

Anonymous said...

She's popular with the Grand Avenue NIMBYs. Most functional adults think she behaves like a spoiled child.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever sat through 5 hours of a Public Hearing? Everyone is almost brain dead! Mussatto stated in the NS News Sunday edition that he would close the hearing a 11:00 - Coucillor Bookham was merely forcing him to live up to his committment. 5 hours on those uncomfortable benches trying to hear speakers on that dreadful PA system is enough for everyone!
You want an good example of childish behaviour - watch the mayor's behaviour on the replay.

Anonymous said...

Pam, is that you? It ran something like 12 minutes late. My view is it is better to hear all the speakers and run the hearing an extra 12 minutes than close it down exactly at 11 pm. However, I guess I'm willing to spare 12 minutes of my time in favour of the City's constituents, whereas, certain elected officials who are supposed to represent them are not.

Anonymous said...

You would never hear all the speakers in 12 minutes. Matter of fact some were leaving because it was getting late. Makes perfect sense to shut it down at 11:00 and continue the next day....

Anonymous said...

At ll:00 last night, ALL speakers had been heard, some a second time. Mussatto wanted to go on to Councillor's questions. Tonight, no one who had spoken last night was allowed to speak again and there were only two new speakers. Councillor questions took up the next l 1/2 hours. Had Councillor Bookham not left last night the meeting could have gone on well past midnight. Bless her for calling a sensible halt to the evening!

Anonymous said...

And whoever posted the previous venomous comments about last night is obviously aligned with the disgraceful actions of this developer. The most thoughtful responses tonight were from the opposing vote.

Anonymous said...

concrete, cars, graffiti and garbage. Welcome to the city of north vancouver

Anonymous said...

Don Bell, by his own admission, worked so hard to make sure Onni's dream came true - in spite of the petition signed by almost 1000 citizens against this development. It is very clear whose side he is on! As many observers said last night,"Now we know who NOT to vote for!"

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, petitions signed by a group holding the minority view, are not grounds for preventing a development. Especially when that development is exactly where it belongs; on the main commercial and transportation corridor of a CITY.

Anonymous said...

To: Anon 2.06pm .. A group holding a "minority view" .. have to chuckle at that. Going through the speakers on Monday night, the majority were from "my Space Housing", Chamber of Commerce, Lonsdale Business Assn, various developers, YWCA, Vancouver Resource Society etc ... I figure about 8 were actually individuals who liked the thought of the affordable housing or daycare. The developer has been actively working with groups, yet the City has not decided who will get the 10 units of "maybe affordable housing". How can that be? The game continues.

Anonymous said...

Promise a home for an LEC boiler plant. Put a socialist spin on the development and mussatto and his cronies are all over it. What do you expect for a grown man that still lives with his mommy and daddy?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:00 PM, do you really feel there is a problem with families living on the same property? Is it really a bad thing for families to live together to share resources? Is your heart so small that this is really a criticism? I feel sorry for you.

Anonymous said...

Feel sorry for the families struggling to pay taxes to fund the freeloaders

Anonymous said...

Is the city of north vancouver community development and planning department using the projects of Chicago as the model for central Lonsdale?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:22 PM, How exactly are our taxes funding the project?

Anon, 8:10 AM, clearly you've never been to Chicago. The density proposed is nothing like what you'll find in Chicago, or even Toronto, or even downtown Vancouver!

Anonymous said...

anon 8:37

Not referring to density referring to an environment of concrete and steel with little or no green space. To bad for any pet owners in this area as the will have to retrain their pets to crap on concrete.

Anonymous said...

No green space?! Do you even live here?! Grassed boulevards aside, Victoria Park, Mahon Park and Grand Boulevard are within easy walking distance. And contrary to what you might think, we dog owners don't mind a good walk.

Anonymous said...

No dog I've ever had - and I have had several, could wait 5 or 6 blocks to do his business - specially last thing at night! I guess we'll just have to move another step closer to New York and learn to "Curb Your Dog!"

Anonymous said...

Ironically there is a nice piece of lawn right in front of city hall. No doubt this rare piece of green space will become very popular as the new developments come on line.

Anonymous said...

Where exactly is the green space that this project is replacing? Plenty of dogs are walked along Lonsdale and plenty of them relieve themselves along Lonsdale. On the concrete! And many of the owners even pick up after them! Oh, the horror! A paved parking lot is being replaced by something that is arguably better. No green space is being lost. Enough of the nonsensical hyperbole!

Anonymous said...

Dear 8:24am === Don't get your knickers in such a knot! Over 2000 people came forward against this project. Let some of them have a last, lighthearted kick at it. We'll all get used to it, city hall will have to solve the many problems it will cause and in 100 years, who knows what will replace it. By then, it could be waterfront property!

Anonymous said...

Over 2000? Where do you get that number?

Anonymous said...

2 petitions presented to council Nov.19 TOTAL = Just short of 2000
signatures. Many letters to the editor, phone calls and emails to councillors, people who attended public hearing meetings who did not sign the petitions.... I figure I"m justified saying over 2000.

Anonymous said...

Those were just the petitions presented... there were others in the works .. Way over 2000 opposed. and take away all the speakers brought by Chamber of Commerce, LLBA, Resource Society, My Own Space, Onni "friends", how many in favour that understood the "affordable housing" would be may be 10 suites? I'd say maybe 15 people in favour.