CITIZENS AGAINST URBAN SPRAWL SOCIETY
Press Release: April 14, 2009
Citizens Against Urban Sprawl Society is issuing an alert to all BC residents concerned with responsible development planning and protection of the environment. The province has introduced legislation which allows developers and municipalities to enter into 20 year legally binding Phased Development Agreements (PDAs). If approved by the Inspector of Municipalities, 20 year PDAs guarantee zoning for developers regardless of what up to 6 future elected municipal councils deem to be in their community’s best interest. The flawed PDA process overrides the will of the electorate and undermines the ability of democratically elected councils to respond to community needs. The Mission test case proves that despite their long-term environmental, social and economic impacts, the approval of these PDAs is merely a rubber stamp process with no real accountability. The Inspector recently approved a PDA between Mission and 2 major development corporations despite serious objections from both provincial and federal environment ministries whose concerns were not even mentioned in his approval. The Inspector refused to accept public submissions prior to making his decision and refused to accept a legal opinion funded by West Coast Environmental Law. This legal opinion states the Mission PDA violates the Local Government Act and calls into question the business case for the massive development project. It is no coincidence that Mission’s Director of Corporate Administration has since confirmed that the developers have already failed to meet their first important obligation under the PDA- to apply to register a no-build covenant on the property within 15 days of adoption of the agreement. This covenant was a critical component of the PDA designed to protect the public interest by ensuring compliance with density objectives and provision of conservation areas and parks. Given his responsibility within government, it was shocking to read the Inspector state the approval “is not to be construed as representing provincial approval for the substance of the bylaw and its legality” (letter from Dale Wall, Inspector of Municipalities, to District of Mission Feb. 12/09). Unless a more rigorous and transparent approval process is developed, PDAs could be passed all over the province leaving a long-term legacy of environmentally destructive and financially high-risk projects. To date, Kevin Krueger, Minister of Community Development, and local MLA Randy Hawes have not responded to CAUSS’s concerns with the PDA approval process. Mission residents will be paying close attention to this issue over the next few weeks. Concerned BC residents should email their local MLA, Minister Krueger, Premier Campbell, the BC Ombudsman and BC Auditor General to demand environmental ministry concerns and legal and technical issues be resolved before the province commits to any extended PDA timelines.
For more information, see causs.ca, or email us at b.causs(at)gmail.com.
Tracy Lyster Chair, CAUSS