The Siverdale sham continues Dec. 22/08

A late item presented at Mission Council meeting Dec. 15/08 suggests Mission’s Director of Corporate Administration, Dennis Clark does not think much of 8 days of public input into the Silverdale bylaws.  Mr. Clark’s memo lays out a schedule for proceeding with approval of the Genstar phase one development beginning Dec. 22 at which time council will accept the minutes of the public hearing and proceed to 3rd reading of the proposal. The memo states, if council passes third reading, the proposal will be sent for external approvals including the Inspector of Municipalities on Dec. 23. The Inspector’s approval is needed to pass the 20 year legally binding phased development agreement (PDA) between Mission and Genstar/Madison.  Once the Inspector approves the PDA, Mr. Clark advises that council may proceed to adoption of the plan and the PDA.  What is missing in this memo is any mention of what to do if council DOES NOT pass third reading, what to do if council requests any additional information or CHANGES  to the plan on the basis of public input, or what to do if the Inspector does not approve the PDA.  Perhaps Mr. Clark has already decided for council and the Inspector that 8 days of public input from concerned citizens is irrelevant.  Perhaps Mr. Clark wishes to give Genstar an early Christmas gift.

Silverdale Public Hearings end Dec.10/08

The Silverdale public hearings ended at about midnight Dec.10/08 after Mayor Atebe struck several names off the speaker’s list claiming that because these individuals had not used their full 12 minutes on a previous presentation, they were not permitted to make another presentation.  He then announced that the hearing would continue until the few remaining names were exhausted.
There will be no more opportunity to submit information to council before they make their decision although strangely enough, contacting individual councillors is considered OK.
CAUSS would like to congratulate and thank all those who spoke at and attended the hearings.  This was the only opportunity the public had to express and document the public perspective, and it was clear that the issues revealed by these presentations were very serious and important.  The public has revealed serious gaps in the plan and in the PDA.  Despite extensive marketing of the development as “environmentally responsible”,  federal Fisheries and provincial Ministry of Environment scientists do not support the plan or the process.  The stream setbacks proposed for this highly sensitive ecosystem are the minimum allowed under current legislation and do little to protect the habitat needs of non-aquatic endangered species.   Council admitted the 20 year legally binding Phased Development Agreement was drafted for the benefit of Genstar and the amenities included in the agreement are of little or no benefit to the rest of Mission. 
Some speakers were clearly harassed and censored by the Mayor and Councillor Stevens, who appeared to be spending much of her time listening to tapes of past presentations, rather than the speakers in front of her, and then interrupted speakers with accusations that they were repeating themselves. Many speakers stated they felt attacked or intimidated. This sad state of affairs does not diminish in any way the importance of what was said and does not negate the need for the public interest to be protected.
It is now up to council to at least appear to deliberate, and act on the publics’ concerns.  Given Genstar’s recent position that they will not start for at least 2 years due to the economic downturn, there really is no excuse for council to ignore citizen’s concerns.  
CAUSS recommends that all Silverdale residents arrange to have their wells tested as soon as possible, and keep records of their wells’ water quality and quantity.  

Silverdale Public Hearings Resume Tuesday Dec. 9/08


The Silverdale Public hearings resume Tuesday Dec. 9, 6:30 at the Best Western.  No doubt, council is expecting a poor turnout due to the time of year and disappointing election results.  Despite the election, nothing has changed.  The plan fails to satisfy both provincial and federal ministry scientists (see dfo_oct_17_08 & moe_oct_21_08) and the financing is uncertain given Genstar’s statement that the current PDA is not viable for them (see genstar_sept29_08 ). 
The problem with this process is that the public interest has been completely left out of planning.  The Neighbourhood Planning Advisory Committee (NPAC), which should have been representing the public, included the proponents and a number of people with a vested interest in the development.  CAUSS attended a meeting where NPAC openly admitted that they did not represent the public and public comments, submitted during the various open houses, were barely considered.
Because the public have been left out, the Public Hearing has become a critical forum for expressing and documenting public concerns. So far, the hearings have revealed the negligence of Mission in not having its own project manager, not conducting any risk assessment whatsoever, not addressing resident concerns about ground water contamination,  not including seniors housing or affordable housing options, worsening the resident:employment ratio in our community (so even more people have to commute out of mission to work than before), risking our air quality, etc. etc. etc.
Genstar recently told Mission that they have no intention of starting for at least 2 years due to current market conditions (pg 12. Nov.24/08 DOM Council agenda).  Why then is there such a rush to approve this plan and lock us in for 20 years, before the public and ministry concerns are addressed?
People need to attend the Public Hearing and continue to present the public concerns as well as support citizens in making their presentations. 

Silverdale Public Hearing starts Oct 21/08, 6:30 pm

District of Mission Council is holding the public hearing on bylaws relating to the proposed 1400-unit Phase One housing development in Silverdale.  This is the last chance citizens have to present their comments and concerns.

The development will have negative impacts on Silverdale’s wildlife, which includes 5 endangered species, and numerous streams, many of which are fish-bearing.  The hillside aquifer, which provides current Silverdale residents with fresh water, is at high risk of contamination by storm water runoff from roads and chemicals.  Both the federal Fisheries Ministry and the provincial Ministry of the Environment have been highly critical of the planning process and the studies conducted by the developer’s consultants.

Negative impacts to air quality will be felt throughout the Fraser Valley due to the influx of up to 30,000 cars at build-out, and loss of 100’s of acres of forest.

The public hearing will also review a 20-year, legally binding Phased Development Agreement between Mission, and the Genstar and Madison development corporations.  Mission Council has reassured over-taxed Mission residents that “Genstar will pay for everything”.  However, as recently as Sept. 29/08, Genstar and Madison have stated that certain aspects of the current Phased Development Agreement are not economically viable for them.  They have also asked Mission Council to agree to expropriate land from current residents whose properties may be needed for easements or right of ways.

We urge everyone who is concerned about this proposal to come to the Public Hearing.

Oct. 21/08, 6:30 pm

Best Western Mission City Lodge

32281 Lougheed Highway 

 Note: There will be a speaker’s list for those who want to make presentations.  

Public Hearing rescheduled for Oc. 21/08.

On Aug 25/08, Council finally released Genstar’s proposed 1400+ unit phase one plan and the Phased Development agreement (PDA) with Genstar.  Council also passed a resolution that the remaining 867 acres of Genstar Madison lands will be considered as the “preferred next phase” in the development of Silverdale. The PDA agreement was subsequently rescinded and an amended agreement was adopted Sept.2/08.  Such indications that this 20 year legally binding agreement is being created on the fly is worrisome to say the least.  

Council has announced that the public hearing for both the plan and the PDA will be Oct. 21/08- a mere 3 1/2 weeks before the municipal election. How can meaningful public scrutiny and debate occur when Mission Council is so determined to approve the massive first phase of the development before the municipal election Nov. 15/08, that they have reduced this critically important opportunity for public input to a meaningless box ticking exercise? 

When those with power cease to act responsibly, ordinary citizens must take responsibility for the future of our community.  To even consider holding the public hearing for the biggest development project in Mission’s history in the dying days of their mandate reveals just how little Mission Council is interested in the views of residents.  Does council intend to restrict input from citizens to accommodate this political timeline or do they merely intend to disregard what the public has to say?

AMMENDUM: The answer to our question is BOTH.

CAUSS has learned that Mission Council has just voted to restrict public presentations at the public hearing to 12 minutes/person.  Those who have more in depth comments will be asked to defer the remainder of their presentation until all others have spoken, at the end of the hearing   (late item Sept. 2/08).

CAUSS has also learned that the 20 year legally binding Phased Development Agreement has already been submitted to the Inspector of Municipalities for approval- without the benefit of any public consultation in advance of the public hearing. Even more shocking, on Oct.6/08, Genstar and Madison both submitted letters to Mission Council that the proposed PDA is NOT VIABLE for them.   If the financial comittments included in the PDA are being rejected by the developers, guess who will be paying the costs? 

Mission Council prepares to ram through approval of neighbourhood one before the municipal election Nov/08.

Mission Council has scheduled first reading of Genstar’s proposed neighbourhood one for August 11/08 and the public hearing for the plan on Oct. 21/08.  The massive subdivision on 445 acres of beautiful Silverhill proposes over 1400 houses. Genstar and Madison have already submitted a rezoning application, and Mission has been negotiating a phased development agreement with the proponents, both of which are also scheduled to go to public hearing at the same time.  A phased development agreement would effectively freeze the zoning on the plan for up to 20 years, thereby preventing future Councils from making changes to the plan or be required to compensate Genstar.  Councillor Horn stated that he is concerned that council may accept anything they are handed in order to ensure the plan is adopted before the municipal election Nov. /08.  Such recklessness and haste is indefensible and an affront to democracy.  All concerned Mission residents should attend the public hearing Oct. 21/08 and let council know, if they ram through the plan, they will not be getting re-elected.