Most District residents "know" that most of the parks in North Vancouver District were given status by referenda and require another referenda to remove their park status. Over 30 parks in NV District have "dedicated by referendum" status with 4 referenda passed in the election of 1996 and 15 more in the 1999 election.
However that's NOT the view of District who believes that that only applies to the entire park and NOT to portions of it.
This issue came to the public eye due to a motion at the January 29th DNV Council meeting to apply an "alternate approval process" to de-dedicate a trail in Kirkstone Park to build a road where a trail currently exists.
"Alternate approval process" is a form of "negative billing" where District gives itself the right to waive a referendum unless a petition signed by 10% of the electorate is received by the required date.
1st, 2nd and 3rd readings were given to the motion which means that this parks de-dedication will come about UNLESS a petition with 5962 votes is received at District Hall by March 12th.
Because the first three readings were done on January 29th with no advance public notice this will be the only time this will appear on the agenda. Since the public can only speak at Council on non-agenda items at the discretion of the Mayor, Mayor Walton is able to prevent any public input on this matter at Council if he chooses.
During the Council discussion on the proposal it was claimed the cost of staging a referendum would be "too expensive". The referendum dedicating this park was held side by side with the 1999 election which elected the Mayor and Council. Any "expense" was part of the election.
Does anyone reading this not know that 2018 is an election year?
The public is entitled to ask "why the need for haste on this matter"?
The only possible reason why this road might be quickly needed would be to expedite the Mosaic Emery Place re-development proposal - but this proposal while it has had several public meetings has not come to Council yet for first reading! Anyone who follows municipal affairs knows it is extremely unusual for a major project to take less than 6 months from first reading to "shovel ready" - so why the haste?
The most likely reason for the "negative billing" "Alternate Approval Process" route is that District fears an outraged public might vote it down in a genuine referendum.
But that's a view Council has no right to hold - when the Council does first reading they have a legal and moral obligation to view the proposal with all the facts in plain view - maybe it's a great proposal maybe it isn't - but at this stage of the process this is not something Council can legitimately judge.
5962 with a 5 week window to collect that many names. Does that sound fair orreasonable to you?
One more point: District will only accept paper petitions on their form. These can be obtained at District Hall @ 355 West Queens. No online signatures or non-District petition forms will be accepted.
The voting public need to keep in mind that this "negative billing" process can be done with ANY District park and there are few neighborhood parks that could hope to get 5962 votes in 3-5 weeks.
While I'm sure Council would deny any intention to do so, using this "alternate" process all NV District parks could be de-dedicated without referendum one by one. While I'm sure their intentions are pure is this really a power we want in the hand of our elected officials?
If this passes the voting public will need to remember what has been done and remind the Mayor and Council with their ballots that this kind of end run around the referendum requirement is not OK and that we the people do not approve!