(By: Elvis Glazier)
I was at the recent Tsawwassen Area Plan meeting and I must say I was more than a little disappointed in how the meeting was run. The fact that there was no forum for public input beyond that of an ambiguous questionnaire leads me to believe that Delta city council is trying to pull a fast one on the citizens of Delta. The 'excuse de jour' of course is that they didn't anticipate so many people showing up. This is Tsawwassen, home of the longest public hearing in the history of Canada! The fact they didn't anticipate such a large turn out only proves that this committee, under the leadership of Councilor Bruce McDonald and Councilor Heather King, are either uninterested in hearing from the public or completely out of touch with their constituency. So now, we're forced to choose between conspiracy or incompetence. Both frighten me.
The other fact that came out during this sham of a public consultation was less blatant. I was handed a 'Southlands Post Charette Paper' by a Century Group proponent in a 'YES' T-shirt and I began to flip through page after page of pretty pictures and artistic renditions of the development being scrutinized. It wasn't the pictures that interested me, because they were as uninspiring as every other development plan I have seen over the years. A third - a third - a third has been the developers mantra for as long as I can remember and this plan doesn't deviate at all. No, what interested me was the first page inside the cover of the booklet. It would have gone unnoticed had I not put the TAP agenda inside the booklet for safekeeping. When reading who the TAP committee members were, a glaring bit of information jumped out at me. Two members of the Century Group's planning team who had advocated and signed the development brief were now members of the City of Delta's, Tsawwassen Area Plan committee. How is it that the vetting process missed this fact? The moment Helen Kettle and Carla Marshall signed off in favour of Century's Southlands development plan they should have been disqualified from being members of a committee that is supposed to be part of a democratic process.
Regardless of how unbiased Carla and Helen may claim to be it's too much for the public to have to swallow. This committee has to report to city council free of bias and outside influence. When two committee members have their signatures on the front page of Century Group's marketing literature endorsing the plans brought forth by the developer who wishes to rezone agricultural land it's time to wonder who's running this committee? Is it the citizens of Delta or a developer in Tsawwassen? Again, it shows the citizens of Delta that this city council is either out of touch with the people who elected them or they don't care about democracy. Instead of trying to fast track this process, I think the Southlands debate would be much better served if we hold off until the next civic election to decide who we want in charge of the stewardship of our agricultural legacy.