Saturday, March 03, 2018

Alternate Approval Process - Valuable Tool or Abuse of Power?

"Alternate Approval Processes" (AAPs) have been used by various provincial and regional governments to sidestep around referendum requirements when the powers that be consider the issue minor. They are one of the few "negative billing requirement" type processes allowed by the Provincial Government.

In North Vancouver District the most recent one is to undedicate and detach a 5 x 150 metre section of Kirkstone Park. It was used last year to undedicate a portion of Keithlynn park for the new Mountain Highway interchange.

The two situations are entirely different - Keithlynn was to support a provincial government highways project. Kirkstone's is to facilitate the re-development of Emery Place by a private for-profit developer.

In his North Shore News letter Councillor Robin Hicks asserts the Kirkstone lands that are part of the AAP are "developable slivers". The catch is that in DNV parks there are NUMEROUS such "slivers" most of which contain trails connecting roadways and many are heavily used.

What makes Alternate Approval Processes so problematic is the high number of petitioners required and the short time allowed to collect them. Province-wide, 95+% of AAPs are "approved".

Many people feel AAPs are an abuse of power by governments and should be strictly controlled. It is next to impossible to get 10% of the entire community on pretty much any local area issue!

My personal view is that AAPs need to be discontinued altogether. I have heard the arguments on both sides and believe strongly AAPs do far more harm than good.

Even if AAPs are allowed to continue serious reforms are urgently needed.

Here are the legal amendments I advocate:

- Any AAP application needs to be advertised on the home page of the municipal website "above the fold" as well as in local print media

- AAP petitions should be able to be signed online on the municipal site. (I offer as an example the British Parliament site where there are strict legal requirements on what the government must do based on varying numbers of public responses.)

- The current requirement of 10% of the electorate signing an AAP petition should be lowered - I note that if the current AAP 10% requirement was required for the 2014 election only Mayor Walton (acclaimed), Councillors Muri and Mackay-Dunn would have been elected. I suggest a requirement of half the votes received by the lowest polling Councillor who was elected in the past general election.


Hazen Colbert said...


Since I was the lowest polling council challenger at the last municipal election I may be uniquely qualified to comment on your last paragraph.

IMHO I take the position that polling last is much like finishing last in the NHL and that the bottom finisher should get the equivalent of the first draft. In the context of the AAP, I think the bottom finisher should have, over the council term, the right of veto over any AAP decision. While it may sound silly, equally as silly is turning a public park into a private road and parking lot for a for-profit condo developer.

What do people think?

Lyle Craver said...

Perhaps I wasn't sufficiently clear - I said half of the lowest ELECTED Councillor which was Roger Bassam at 5825 votes.
2014 DNV Election Results

Half of that would be 2913 which while still a tough hurdle to reach in 4-6 weeks (particularly on a neighbourhood issue) is not absurd. However the important thing is the end the "hard copy" petition requirement which in 2018 is beyond absurd.

Hazen Colbert said...


I was not aware that Bassam polled so low.

As you know Bassam ran for the Liberal nomination in the riding back in 2011. There were about 600 voters. I recall the winner getting about 400 votes, second place about 200, with Bassam in third with 3 - he, his wife and presumably Don Bell.

Anonymous said...

"Valuable Tool or abuse of power"

While it has the potential to be abused, I don't think it should be removed as an option. If you don't like how it is being used, remove the council, but there are certainly situations where engaging in an entire, community wide, referendum makes zero sense.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I was at last weeks council meeting and I have to say I haven't seen District staff so combative in a long while, and the correspondence on the save Kirkstone page isn't much better. It seems like they are playing a bit of a strawman game where they are saying the community is concerned about public access and obviously they can address that concern, but very clearly the community is concerned about the conversion of the trail from a forested path to a roadway. Some cognitive dissonance at play.

Hazen Colbert said...

Perhaps one of the "disassociations" is that the municipality has been reluctant to create new highways/roads for the general community for going on 30 years but appears to have leapt at the chance to create a new road/highway out of parkland exclusively for a developer when a perfectly functioning road already exists. Such an occasion was sure to draw justified ire. Mr. Stuart's rambling, prolix lecture last Monday night followed by an obviously distraught GM of Planning clearly being told to "get out there and spin the story" by the Mayor and CAO in Sean Spicer fashion, while shaking so much with anxiety that he could not place his transparencies under the overhead, simply exacerbated the problem. The GM is an honest person with the greatest of integrity. He should not have been treated in such a manner.

Kirkstone is not a stand alone issue. It is but one symptom in a culture of hubris, corruption and community ambivalence rooted in Municipal Hall and all the more reason to "kick the bums out" on October 20, 2018 (sending Stuart and Gordon with them sans a two-year parachute).

Sorry to be harsh but a zebra cannot change its spots.

Monica Craver said...

What is the use of having any dedication of parks... and even to go further: Agricultural Land Reserves, for that matter, if the governments can pull the rug from under these protections any time they wish, via draconian measures which no citizen can readily defeat?

There are other dedicated parks under threat from our local government that seem to be flying under the radar, as they whittle away at pieces of it via "Fire Reduction" programs, which have the detrimental and opposite effect of drying out our wetland and riparian parks even more.

When you vote to dedicate a park, it seems you invite less protection -- not more protection for it. What is the answer to all this? Push, shove and shout, until the protections are in place -- and don't give up too easily! And, for heaven's sake, don't be so polite about it either.

Some of these DNV Councillors have been sitting in their seats long past their "best before" dates. Nothing is going to change, if we don't vote in that change. Problem is, we don't have anyone speaking for environmental protection of our parks and natural places anymore. It is all about our elected officials pandering to multi-housing/condo development and off-road wreckreation these days.

Anonymous said...

I suspect 99.9% of the square footage that has been dedicated as park by referendum is still protected as park. Suggesting it gives it less protection is a non-sequitur.

You know about the changes at Kirkstone because of its park status, and it is harder for the council to make changes because of its park status. If this had simply been PRO (Parks, Recreation & Open Space) then I suspect this council would have passed it with only passing mention in the rezoning notice.

Spare the hyperbole, it is too easy to shut that part of your argument down, making it very easy to ignore your very valid and important comments about political accountability. Just a tip.

Anonymous said...

Indeed DNV Council including crooked Richard, Swastika Matt, shyster Hymie, the Lynn Valley Village drunk "Hick" etc would transferred the entire ownership of the park to the developer to feather their own nests if possible in a secret meeting chaired by Lenny Roseberg II.

But they got caught.

Hazen Colbert said...

I can think of no more important debate for us to have with the retirement of Walton then whether we remain an enclave for wealthy Caucasian old stock Canadian families with municipal hall spreading largess among friends from their high school days while, in contrast, providing bare-bones government services to our more diverse electorate like sewer hook-ups, fire trucks and road salting and that’s about it, or whether we deliver the services that a modern municipality has to deliver to be inclusive, to be fair, to be livable particularly to those in need.

Anonymous said...

"Swastika Matt"? I thought you had buried the hatchet with Matt? Still gnawing at that bone?

Anonymous said...

I think it was an attempt at humour given the bungling involved. Who the Sam Dickens is Lenny Roseberg II?

Anonymous said...

Seems the person who posted probably meant Lenny Rosenberg, a Toronto mortgage broker. More disturbing is the anti Semitic tone of that same post. Is this what this blog has come to, John?

Anonymous said...

This Lenny Rosenberg? The shyster who was sentenced to 5 years in Millhaven for flipping real estate and tax fraud? I guess Justice Watt was also anti-Semitic?

Watt's comment about real estate and property development fraud being "fueled by avarice" ironically apply equally today but this time in the Lower Mainland. In fact they specifically apply to Lions Gate and the Single Lot Improvement Area in Upper Capilano.

WHERE HE WENT Represented by high-profile criminal lawyer Eddie Greenspan, Rosenberg pleaded guilty at his trial in 1993 and was sentenced to five years in Millhaven Penitentiary near Kingston. At the sentencing, Justice David Watt said Rosenberg's crimes, which "were fueled by avarice," had undermined public trust in financial institutions. To restore it, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. raised deposit-protection levels to $60,000 from $20,000.