Regarding Mayor Dingwalls’ response to Pitt Meadows residents’ petition against RCMP de-integration, we now have his edict – “Decision has been made”.
This is pure hubris. The decision is still in the hands of Solicitor General Farnworth and most importantly should be in the hands of taxpayers.
Financial change this immense and its targeted park land development site must be put to a fully informed Referendum Process at the fall 2022 municipal election. Taxpayers will be paying the bill for this huge loan possibly for decades to come (well over an estimated $18.25 million with still unknown costs and predictable cost over runs).
This would be our City’s largest, most costly infrastructure build in its entire history.
Council continues to ignore the demand for transparent communication of facts and accessible open dialogue over multiple public opportunities with the residents who voted them into those seats to represent all of Pitt Meadows without personal bias.
With this legacy project, in the absence of full financial implications, well ahead of government approval, taxpayers are told to give the city a blank, signed cheque. This is not financially responsible or acceptable as we look to paying millions in our share for a CP Underpass/Overpass, its insurance (unstable cost), dyking height upgrades ($100 million), finishing a (now) $15 million firehall, and regular infrastructure upgrades and repairs.
The AAP (Alternate Approval Process) used by council June 28, 2021 for removing park land designation of over 2,300 square metres of iconic Harris Road Park had no well acknowledged, ‘information in the mailbox with voting form’ city awareness campaign (zoning hearings TBA).
The AAP is a voting method that has tremendous potential for abuse by municipalities. It was designed to be a less expensive voting method rather than relying on referendums, to allow public voting for routine, non-controversial, municipal matters (see Alternate Approval Process Guide, Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing).
Thousands of unaware residents (those who did not know about the online park land voting opportunity and therefore did not register a ‘No’ vote) were unwittingly voting ‘yes’ to this bylaw amendment. Do you remember voting yes? There were not “only 202 residents opposed to this” per the mayor’s comments.
That is twisting the facts. There were in fact no documented, conscious ‘yes’ votes for it. This method assuredly removed athletic and leisure park land from its designation that was deeded to the city in the mid 1940s via the Athletic Committee and original owner, Frank Viccars Harris. It was specifically meant for the future athletic and leisure enjoyment of all residents, not development. This fundamental bylaw change should have gone to fully informed assent voting (vote yes if you are for it).
Mayor and council continue to trumpet the global agreement of everyone in Pitt Meadows on de-integration when in fact, the petition against this and park land removal has been signed by over 400 residents opposed and the signature count continues to grow.
Mayor, council and staff, you do not have overwhelming community support in this matter. Hold a referendum along with the municipal 2022 elections on building our first autonomous RCMP detachment for well over $18.25 million (no doubt $25 million once all is said and done) and using park land as a building site.
Come with a true cost/benefit analysis and all the hard, cold facts and figures.
Darlene Mercer, Pitt Meadows, (petition organizer)
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