Silverdale bylaws create an unacceptable risk for Mission taxpayers

CAUSS delivered a 12 page legal submission to Mission council at the zoning bylaw public hearing Sept.14 (see CAUSS legal opinion Sept 14, 2009) .  The opinion was funded by West Coast Environmental Law and warned Council that the combination of separate covenants for the developers Genstar and Madison, as well as a side escrow agreement recently signed by the developers and the District, creates a massive loophole which could result in loss of the amenities package for the District.  Such a loss would cost Mission taxpayers millions and therefore constitutes an unacceptable risk for the District.  The legal submission also warned of the environmental and tax implications of designating Neighbourhood one lands as Agricultural and revealed that despite assurances otherwise from District staff, the Environmental Protection section of the bylaw had been significantly altered.  When CAUSS pointed out that no information was available to explain an “oral taxation agreement” between the District and the developers, Mayor Atebe directed CAUSS to submit a Freedom of Information request in order to ensure that we have received all relevant documents.  This curious directive fails to realize that the public is entitled to all relevant documents PRIOR to the public hearing, and a FOI request typically takes the District months to process- an issue all the more bizarre as Genstar submitted a request for yet more amendments to the bylaw a mere 3 minutes before the hearing. To our shock, following the submission, Council chose not to mention these serious legal issues and instead focused on trivial items such as whether including “chickens” in the agricultural designation should be changed to “hens”.  Clearly Mayor and Council are over their heads with respect to planning of this massive development.