Two Burnaby councillors are undermining the housing task force

Chris Campbell

There is a disturbing technique some people use when they don’t like a particular decision or result.

What happens is they attempt to delegitimize the process that led to the decision or result so people won’t accept it. You will remember well that in the lead-up to the last U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump started making a lot of noise about voter fraud.

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That was by design in case he lost the election.

I think this technique is being used by two Burnaby city councillors – Colleen Jordan and Dan Johnston - in regards to the results of the recent Community Recommendations Workshop that made recommendations to Mayor Mike Hurley’s housing task force.

The workshop brought together 97 people – 74 randomly selected residents and 23 representatives of community organizations – for a day-long session meant to find solutions to the city’s housing crisis. The recommendations from the workshop will inform the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing’s final report, expected later this month. The workshop was facilitated by Simon Fraser University's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, which has partnered with Burnaby for the task force process. 

According to the NOW’s recent story, 70 per cent of respondents said the City of Burnaby should allow four- to six-storey apartment buildings in single-family residential neighbourhoods. 

But according to a story posted on the website of the Vancouver-based Georgia Straight, Jordan called the process “flawed” and “the list of community groups is suspect, to say the least”at Monday’s council meeting, zeroing in on this particular recommendation. According to the article, she expressed doubt that 70 per cent of the respondents would agree with these conclusions. How scientific!

As for Johnston, the article says he “claimed that some ‘paid professionals’ were among the workshop’s participants, trying to ‘steer the presentation.’ As a result, Johnston questions the validity of the reports’ findings.”


It’s one thing to say you don’t like the recommendations – it’s quite another to impugn the integrity of the organizers of the workshop.

And let’s be clear, that’s what Jordan and Johnston have done with their comments.

The people behind the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue are experts in this field with a long and distinguished track record. I believe they are owed an apology by these two for their slanderous accusations that the process was somehow manipulated.

Wosk’s manager of engagement and social enterprise, Michelle Bested, said the workshop brought an informed, deliberative approach to public engagement, which is sometimes lacking in municipal decision-making. Participants were required to read background information and spent a day working though ideas with each other. The participants were also a representative sample of Burnaby, mirroring the city’s demographics from cultural, gender, socio-economic, age and housing tenure perspectives.

These people worked hard on coming up with solutions and two local politicians just dumped all over them. They don’t like the result, so they say the process is “flawed.”

And all because they don’t like what was said.

metrotown rentals
Metrotown, Burnaby. - Jennifer Gauthier

The comments didn’t sit well with some who have been part of the process.

Shauna Sylvester tweeted out her reaction: “I’m not sure you will find a better structured, more inclusive conversation on housing anywhere. @CityofBurnabytook a risk in asking residents for their views and the results were surprising. I encourage everyone to read the report!”

Claire Preston – who ran for council in 2018 as an independent – tweeted that the two councillors are more concerned about people who own single-detached houses than people squeezed out of the housing market.

@ColleenEJordan1& @BurnabyDan r proud demoviction supporters, even 2day. They still think that people in @CityofBurnabywant the same things they wanted 20+ yr ago, despite their BBF former mayor Derek Corrigan, getting the boot last year for not listening to residents.”

That’s important context. Jordan and Johnston are die-hard loyalists of ex-mayor Derek Corrigan – you know, the dude that voters tossed last year because of his lack of action on the housing crisis.

Johnston’s comments about “paid professionals” was particularly galling. Jordan and him, as part of the Burnaby Citizens Association, accepted hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars from big developers over the years in campaign donations.

If anyone was “steered” by “paid professionals” in a certain direction it was the BCA and their pro-development agenda that led to a mass campaign of renovictions and demovictions.

Both of them have zero credibility on this issue.

Instead of attacking the process, they need to do more listening to what people are telling them.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.




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