How predicable that the petitioners wish to shut down debate on how the City of Burnaby will deliver on its promises around sustainability, housing affordability and inclusiveness.
What is so troubling about this effort is how short-sighted the petitioners must be when, not long ago, much of Bainbridge East was my playground, growing up on the west side of Bainbridge.
I recall in the 1960s and ‘70s, along with my friends, riding our bikes through the trails created by the deer and bears that our parents constantly warned us about. We were terribly disappointed when the bulldozers knocked down our rickety treehouse - our claim to fame at nearby Sperling Elementary. Of course, as children we didn’t understand that progress meant taking away what we so treasured. Fast-forward, the urgent need for sensitive development that involves delivering more homes, parks, and workplaces cannot be overstated.
Thus, if I understand correctly, and I think I do, the petitioners are perfectly comfortable telling the city to stop further dialogue, but clearly have no recollection that their newly-built homes forcibly displaced the animals, trees, and our informal play areas?
Plus, who are these concerned petitioners anyway? Well, according to Google Maps, the Bainbridge East area contains only about 110 homes. Clearly the petition contains a vast majority of support from those persons who are not directly affected by the consultation proposal. Respectfully, before council gives even a milligram of further consideration to this desire to block even basic dialogue, how about the petitioners publicly explain their vested interest, and who they truly represent?
I get that today’s council must carefully weigh the current needs of residents with the future of the city, which is why provincial land use planning laws give wide and judicious discretion to locally elected officials. However, what the petitioners evidently must not comprehend is that the city is simply complying with this mandatory law, specifically:
B.C. Local Government Act
Section 475 - Consultation during development of official community plan
- During the development of an official community plan, or the repeal or amendment of an official community plan, the proposing local government must provide one or more opportunities it considers appropriate for consultation with persons, organizations and authorities it considers will be affected.
I therefore call on this council to do your lawful duty, and fully consider the breadth of possibilities for Bainbridge East. This does not, in any way, mean that at this time I support re-designation or even re-development of this area. Rather, a failure to engage on what is happening west of Bainbridge can mean a recipe for disaster and build mistrust for those Bainbridge East residents who do not wish to be shut-out of this dialogue at infancy. And if we are concerned about city budgets, then council should rightly be wary of a Section 475 legal complaint from those residents who are not supportive of the petition.
I say that in an open and democratic society the fact that council wishes to pro-actively hear from the neighbours, even in dissent, truly reflects what makes this a great city to live in. What are the petitioners so afraid of that they want to scuttle such debate?
Joe Sulmona, Burnaby