Pitt Meadows council is rezoning a section of Harris Road Park to allow construction of a new RCMP detachment. (City of Pitt Meadows screengrab)

Pitt Meadows council is rezoning a section of Harris Road Park to allow construction of a new RCMP detachment. (City of Pitt Meadows screengrab)

LETTER: Pitt Meadows needs to walk back RCMP building approval

Community can’t afford a new detachment, local resident writes

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to recent newspaper letters written to the editor regarding the revelation of a proposed new policing headquarters and the issues surrounding this project.

I only became aware of this issue by chance. Due to a rezoning issue on my street, I was suddenly engaged to watch a Pitt Meadows counsel meeting streamed online. A Pitt Meadows citizen called in on air, to ask for a referendum for this project. This was my first reference about such a proposal.

I agree with the writers opposed to this process and project. I was mad at myself for not even knowing about this event. Usually, I try to keep up to what is going on Pitt Meadows. I have lived here for over 30 years.

If the city started this business back in February 2020, then shame on them!

I am sure most of us had other crisis to deal with with the advent of COVID. I did. My family did.

What ensued in the coming months for many was chaos, for health concerns, mental health triggers, financial fright, keeping our homes, (close to me, neighbours were forced to sell their homes when they no longer had a job to go to that day).

I did not expect the City of Pitt Meadows to pull a trick like this at such a time. I was not paying attention to mayor and counsel, other than to know that city hall closed down, and there were no longer public meetings.

• READ MORE: Council approves new Pitt Meadows detachment

• LETTER: Pitt Meadows residents should be given vote on new ‘cop shop’

So now I am too late! I would gladly start a petition if I knew how to set one up online.

I just paid a hefty property tax bill to the city. I had to pay at the last minute, to accommodate my strictly dollar-by-day bank account.

Did the city include any of this information in the property tax enclosure that usually arrives with our tax notice? I usually take time to read the enclosure. This year, with all going on I did not take time to read it.

I am happy and satisfied with our RCMP. If it were up to me I would give them a free property tax ticket for them to buy a home here and live here with us. I really appreciate our police and our EComm.

On April 27, I had to write to the City of Pitt Meadows to make a claim for improper notice of a development project on our street. I did not receive properactual notice, or public notice, and the bylaw created sign notice was also deficient in notice.

I am outraged by all of this. A quick Google for to find out about proper notice on government websites for this alternate approval process reveals that this process should not be used for such vastly expensive projects. Also, local governments are urged to consider thetimingof using such a process. I shall copy and paste 2 such excerpts below.

The City of Pitt Meadows is way out of step with our provincial government recommendations regarding this process. Mayor and counsel need to walk this one back ASAP.

Jo Vella, Pitt Meadows

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Timing

Council and regional district board decisions about when to hold an AAP can be influenced by a number of factors – including the time of year (holiday seasons) or an upcoming by-election or general local elections. Timing can have a direct impact on the outcome of an AAP.

The decision to hold an AAP when many electors are absent during the summer months or other holiday season could result in an artificially low response rate that falls well short of the required 10%.

Electors may be concerned that the timing did not provide a reasonable opportunity to sign and submit elector response forms and they were in effect disenfranchised from the democratic process. Therefore, local governments may consider

establishing a longer than 30 day timeframe for an AAP

when it is held during a holiday season or time when a high percentage of the electorate are absent from the community.

Timing an AAP to coincide with general local elections

or with a by-election can have its advantages. Planning

the AAP to conclude prior to the appointment of the

Chief Election Officer for a by-election or general local

elections would provide the local government with the opportunity to proceed to assent voting in a timely manner if needed. If 10% or more of the electors signed forms during the AAP and the local government decided to proceed to assent voting, the vote could then be scheduled to coincide with general local elections or a by-election. Pairing an assent voting question with a by-election or during general local elections can save staff time and resources rather than conducting a separate vote.

An AAP may be the best approach when local governments are facing seasonal construction or borrowing deadlines. A project that must be completed due to rapidly failing infrastructure may also lead local governments to hold an AAP instead of assent voting to obtain elector approval.

Councils and regional district boards must weigh the various considerations associated with a given project or proposal and determine whether or not an AAP is the best process for achieving elector approval. Local governments that gauge the community’s interest and support for a particular matter or decision incorrectly by holding an AAP may find much more public engagement and additional costs are required, than if assent voting was held at the outset.

Alternative Approval Process: 7 Ministry of Municipal Affairs A Guide for Local Governments in British Columbia and Housing

While the alternative approval process provides a local government with greater flexibility and the potential for cost-savings, it may not be appropriate for every situation, even where it is authorized by legislation. There are a number of factors local governments would need to consider when deciding whether to conduct an alternative approval process or proceed directly to assent voting, including:

History

Scale

Cost

Public expectations

Timing of the matter or proposal

For example, if an issue is controversial, requires a significant financial contribution by taxpayers, or is significant in scale or impact on the community, local governments may decide that it is more appropriate and cost-effective to proceed directly to assent voting. However, if the public has been actively engaged and there are reasonable indications that citizens are in favour, the proposal may lend itself better to an alternative approval process.

Find out more about these considerations and how local governments can plan and prepare for an alternative approval process:

From: Alternative Approval Process: A Guide for Local Governments in B.C. (PDF)


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