This message went to Mayor and Council today (December 3, 2013), explaining why WEN will not be speaking in person to City Council regarding agenda item . Main point: The costs of attempting to speak to City Council are too high, and the likely benefits are too low.
Dear Mayor and Council,
On behalf of West End Neighbours, I wish to inform you that while we would have liked to send a WEN Director to speak to Council, we will not be present in Council Chambers on December 3 or 4 to speak to Agenda #4 of the December 3 Regular Council meeting – Development Cost Levy By-law Amendments to the Definition of For-Profit Affordable Rental Housing.
As you know, the necessity of the amendments to the Development Cost Levy By-law arose due to the legal challenge now before the B.C. Supreme Court – WEN Resident’s Society vs City of Vancouver .
We will not be attending for a number of reasons. First, it comes at a considerable personal sacrifice to take time from work to attend Council meetings on a working day. Second, it is virtually impossible to predict how long a registered speaker would have to wait until having the chance to speak to Council. Third, it has been the experience of many citizens that speaking to Council becomes an unpleasant experience based on responses from members of Council. Finally, repeated experience and Council voting records suggest that through bloc voting, Council tends to disregard public input in the decision-making process.
These experiences suggest there is little value in our speaking directly to our elected officials in person at City Hall.
Our concerns on this matter have been addressed in detail via our petition filed on September 20 with the B.C. Supreme Court, and have been conveyed via our lawyer to the City of Vancouver.
Beyond that, the costs of attempting to speak to City Council are too high, and the likely benefits are too low.
We hope that you will re-consider the proposed changes to the STIR and Rental 100 programs. The proposals do little to improve transparency in the development approval process for these market rental projects, and by setting maximum permitted rent levels to inappropriate levels, fail to define “affordable market rental housing” in a reasonable manner.
R. Helten, Director, West End Neighbours