Irregularity

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Or, How Unwanted Written Comment to a Public Hearing Just Disappears …

 
 
The Incident

With this posting, Eye on Norquay finally gets around to documenting an ugly irregularity from the 9 April 2013 City of Vancouver public hearing on 1. REZONING – Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan Implementation – New Zoning District Schedules – RT-11/RT-11N and RM-7/RM-7N.

The foregoing technical gobbledygook corresponds to the implementation of most of the Norquay mass rezoning of 1900 single-family properties, already approved in broad outline on 4 November 2010.

What went haywire?

A timely-emailed written submission to public hearing by Joseph Jones, about the execution of mass rezoning in Norquay, was NOT distributed to City Council before its decision was made.

The email was sent shortly after midnight of the day prior to the public hearing, and confirmation of receipt was emailed back by City of Vancouver at 9:47 am on the day of the public hearing. No explanation was ever provided for this failure. No assurance was given that the material was ever distributed to Council. Email number 7 sent from Joseph Jones to City of Vancouver on the afternoon of 12 April 2013 never received any response.

The only satisfaction obtained was to have the written submission inserted into the record after the fact. That seems to be why the extensive comment now appears top-of-the-listing for the 22 “oppose” comments received by 5:00 pm on 9 April 2013. (The record of email interaction on the matter is appended as Exhibit A.)

The material submitted exists at Eye on Norquay both as a regular posting and as an item in the file of documents.

 
A Pattern of Suppression?

What makes this incident far more disturbing is that the same thing happened to other people. Here is a comment received from Liana on 11 April 2013, reproduced directly below for ease of access:

I’d like to comment on Not in the Plan, but couldn’t find the link. [Ed: Eye on Norquay inadvertently had overlooked the check box that permits comment, an oversight since corrected.]

Just wanted to let you know that I submitted correspondence to the City OPPOSING the rezoning that was not included in the tally of those opposed, nor was my letter included in the PDF document detailing the comments received. I contacted the city again after noticing this, and was told that I had to submit things before the cut off for comments. I pointed out that I had in fact done so, and asked to have the record changed to note this. I wonder how many other comments mysteriously vanished.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t attend, but with two small ones at home and my partner out of town on business that night, I was unable. However, in speaking with my neighbours – all felt this was a fait accompli. Thank you Adrienne Carr for making a principled stand and voting against.

Our neighbourhood (east Van in general) is easy pickings.

If these failures to forward/record opposing comment resulted from incompetence, they are inexcusable. If these failures evidence deliberate suppression, they are unforgivable.

In either case, these failures render the conduct of that particular “public hearing” questionable, and raise great doubts about the legitimacy of the public hearing process itself. The contempt of the Vision Vancouver majority manifests in highly consistent bloc voting that leaves speakers to Council feeling like they have been chewed up by a done-deal machine.

How much more unwanted opposition to the Norquay mass rezoning was crudely tossed aside?

 
Brief Reflection

It is disheartening to see many hours of careful assemblage of perspective receive no consideration whatsoever. It is even more disheartening to take further hours to document this kind of abuse and neglect.

The municipal establishment understands how effective such maltreatment is in shutting down the troublesome participation that it wishes would just go away.

All that remains to those who keep at it is the joy of resistance.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Exhibit A

The following six emails were exchanged between Joseph Jones and City of Vancouver staff
between 9 April 2013 and 12 April 2013. Names of City of Vancouver staff have been redesignated as Staff-A through Staff-G.


 
Email 1 of 7

from:       Joseph Jones 
to:         mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca
date:       Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 12:48 AM
subject:    Written Comment on Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan Implementation
mailed-by:  gmail.com

 
See pdf attached: 130409-norquayplan-written.pdf

Written Comment on Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan Implementation

Item 1 at public hearing of 9 April 2013

Please acknowledge receipt


 
Email 2 of 7

from:       Correspondence Group, City Clerk's Office 
to:         "xxx@gmail.com" 
date:       Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 9:47 AM
subject:    FW:
mailed-by:  vancouver.ca

 
Thank you for your comments.

All public comments submitted for the public hearing that are received not more than 15 minutes after the close of the speakers list for that public hearing will be distributed to members of Council for their consideration. The public comments must include the name of the writer.

In addition, these public comments will also be posted on the City’s website (http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/councilmeetings/meeting_schedule.cfm).

Please note that your contact information will be removed from the comments, with the exception of the writer’s name. Comments received after the start of the public hearing should not exceed 1500 words.

Public comments submitted for the public hearing that are received more than 15 minutes after the close of the speakers list, will not be distributed until after Council has made a decision regarding the public hearing application and the related bylaw is enacted, if applicable.

For more information regarding Public Hearings, please visit vancouver.ca/publichearings.

Thank you.


 
Email 3 of 7

from:       Joseph Jones 
to:         "Staff-A" , Staff-B@vancouver.ca
date:       Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 2:40 PM
subject:    Written submissions to Council on Norquay Plan Implementation
mailed-by:  gmail.com

 
Dear Staff-A and Staff-B —

I start with appreciation that City of Vancouver has begun providing submitted comment as an accessible part of the public record. I write to you since I see your names on some of the replies to email correspondence on Norquay Plan and 2220 Kingsway rezonings. Two problems.

One. I fail to see my submission to Council on Norquay Plan Implementation on this web site:

http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20130409/phea20130409ag.htm

That could be my fault. I may have overlooked something?

Two. The April 9 submissions to Item 1 registered for 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm seem not to be mounted as accessible files.

Thanks for helping me sort out these two matters.

Joseph Jones


 
Email 4 of 7

from:       Staff-B 
to:         Joseph Jones 
cc:         "Staff-A" 
date:       Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 3:03 PM
subject:    RE: Written submissions to Council on Norquay Plan Implementation
mailed-by:  vancouver.ca

 
Hi Joseph,

Thanks for the feedback. With regards to point 2 below, we’re in the process of fixing the two files. They should be accessible later this afternoon — there was a character in the file name the web didn’t like.

As to number 1, we have no submission from you regarding Norquay, although we have both your written and verbal submissions for 2220 Kingsway.

Hopefully this helps.

Staff-B

____________________________________________
Staff-B
Meeting Coordinator
City Clerk’s Department
City of Vancouver
Phone: 604.873.xxxx
Fax: 604.873.xxxx
e-mail: xxx@vancouver.ca


 
Email 5 of 7

from:       Joseph Jones 
to:         Staff-B@vancouver.ca, "Staff-A" 
date:       Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 5:34 PM
subject:    Fwd: Written Comment on Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan Implementation
mailed-by:  gmail.com

 
Dear Staff-B —

Thanks for the clarifications in your email this afternoon. It would appear that mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca may have had a distribution problem since the email unintentionally had a blank subject line? The file size of the attachment certainly should not have been a problem. But that omission really should not have been a dealbreaker for recognition of this submission. As you can see from the date stamp in the forward below, this was emailed out shortly after midnight of Monday April 8. Please add my submission to the record and distribute it for information to Mayor and Council, with explanation that the Digital Strategy of City of Vancouver came a cropper on this one. I am under no illusions about the effect that this information might have had on the voting. But this really does belong in the record. Again, please acknowledge receipt.

Joseph Jones

{“forward below” = Email 1 of 7}


 
Email 6 of 7

from:       Staff-C 
to:         "Joseph Jones (xxx@gmail.com)" 
date:       Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 3:27 PM
subject:    RE: Written Comment on Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan Implementation
mailed-by:  vancouver.ca

 
Good afternoon Mr. Jones —

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We apologize for overlooking your submission on Norquay Village.

I confirm that the record now includes your submission.

Staff-C
Meeting Coordinator
Legislative Operations
City Clerk’s Department
tel: 604.873.xxxx
fax: 604.873.xxxx

* * *

From: Staff-B
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 7:57 PM
To: Staff-C
Cc: Staff-D; Staff-E; Staff-F
Subject: FW: Written Comment on Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan Implementation

 
Hey Staff-C,

See below. Could you look into this since both Staff-A and I are away tomorrow?

Joseph Jones contacted me regarding a couple of things because my name was on some of the printed emails. He pointed out the problem with the files on the website. I told him we were working on them.

The second item he addressed was that his Norquay presentation wasn’t in the posted correspondence. I checked the Public Hearing Inbox, the digital copy and the hard copy, as well as the emails saved in VanDocs that were sent to Mayor and Council. It was not in any of those places. It looks like he sent it at 12:48 am on Tuesday, April 9, so well before the deadline.

Would you mind checking with Staff-G to see if it’s in her files? Then check with Staff-D/Staff-E/Staff-F whether it should be distributed or what the response should be? I’ve copied them in to give them the background.

Thanks for your help

Staff-B


 
Email 7 of 7

from:       Joseph Jones 
to:         "Staff-C" 
date:       Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 4:24 PM
subject:    Re: Written Comment on Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan Implementation
mailed-by:  gmail.com

 
Dear Staff-C —

Thanks for setting that piece of the record straight. And for your timely action on a Friday despite my two initial contacts having the day off. That is commendable. Can you confirm that this “late distribution” — never thought I’d be the author of one — is also going to the mayorandcouncil usual distribution list with a cover note? If this has been done or will be done, I should get a cc? Would you prefer that I mimic the distribution? In light of recent events, I believe that this submission has become even more deserving of careful and considered review.

Joseph Jones


 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

26 August 2013 at 1:06 am

Posted in History, News

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