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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Coroner Blames Victim in Orion's Death

Orion HutchinsonBy Elvis Glazier - Wednesday March 24, 2010 - In a report released yesterday by Coroner Mark Coleman speed and intoxication were cited as contributing factors in the motorcycle death of 21 year old Tsawwassen native Orion Hutchinson.

The accident occurred the evening of Oct. 25, 2008 when Orion's motorcycle collided with a Jeep driven by Monty Robinson, an off duty RCMP officer who was one of the four RCMP officers involved in the tasering death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport.

The coroner's report included a toxicology analysis of Hutchinson's blood that put his blood/alcohol level over the legal limit. In British Columbia the legal limit is 0.08% or 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

"Speed and alcohol intoxication on the part of Mr. Hutchinson were contributing factors," Coleman wrote.

The engineering investigation of the accident states that Orion Hutchinson may have been traveling between 66 and 96 km/h while Officer Monty Robinson was in the range of 24 and 29km/h when he made a fateful left turn that resulted in the collision.

Coleman goes on to say,"Alcohol intoxication on the part of the driver of the Jeep is also believed to be a contributing factor. I classify this death as accidental and make no recommendation."

Witness accounts have the off duty RCMP officer leaving the scene of the accident to walk to his mother's house with his two children after giving his driver's license to a bystander. The Delta Police Department who's jurisdiction the accident took place in reported Robinson's breath samples were between .12 and .10% blood/alcohol level. Levels Robinson claims were the result of drinking two shots of vodka when he returned home prior to providing the Delta Police with breath samples.

Robinson was never charged with drunk driving in spite of recommendations by the Delta Police. Prosecutors felt the evidence was insufficient to secure a conviction for drunk driving and dangerous driving causing death. However, Robinson is facing charges on attempting to obstruct justice due to his actions proceeding the accident.

Robinson entered a plea of not guilty through his lawyer and the preliminary trial will start on April 18, 2011.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The truth about development

There are a number of facts that always seem to be missing when talking about the old Spetifore farmland (now renamed the Southlands).

This land was in the ALR but was removed by a secret cabinet order behind closed doors. Since then, there have been a number of failed attempts to develop the land over the years and they have all included some amount of land being handed over to the city. It's typical of all large development plans and the plan brought forth by the Century Group is no different.

The land is currently zoned as agricultural by the City of Delta and is in the 'Green Zone' in Metro Vancouver's area plan. Both Delta city council and the Metro Vancouver land use board would have to revise their respective area plans to allow for development of the Spetifore farmlands. After which, the Century Group would have to put the development plan before city council as there is no development plan before council at this time. If the Century Group's plan was passed by Delta Council they would have to then convince the Metro Vancouver board to allow this mass development.The developer has to go through two more levels of government before he will be allowed to develop the land and that is only if the area plans are revised to allow it. It is very unlikely that this will occur given the political backlash any politician who voted in favour of this would have to endure. The numbers just don't favour it happening. You have to think, as a politician are you going to appeas one person (Sean Hodgins) at the risk of having yourself tarred and feathered by every environmental, agricultural, and conservationist group on top of the majority of your constituency? Highly doubtful in this era of 'green' politics.

Then there is the extreme tax burden that would be placed upon the entire citizenry of Delta for the major capital projects that would have to take place to accomodate the additional population in South Delta. Developers build infrastructure out as far as their property lines but it would be the municipality (the entire municipality not just South Delta) and the province that would have to collect more taxes to pay to upgrade roads, transit, sewage, water, recreation facilities, garbage collection, electricity, police, fire departments, ambulance, and medical services. Couple that with having to maintain the land that the Century Group would 'donate' to the city and the tax burden gets ridiculous. The argument that the additional taxes collected by the new subdivision would offset this is not even close to the truth when we are talking about expenditures in the hundreds of millions. So when the facts are presented properly now the local politicians will be forced to face the ire of the fiscal conservatives and there are a lot of those in Tsawwassen.

In essence the chances of the Century Group being given permission to build 1900 or so homes on the Spetifore farmalands is very unlikely. That being said there is a fight brewing and I for one am confident that the people of Tsawwassen, Ladner, Delta, and North Delta are up for it.

George Hawksworth 1940 - 2010

Last night it was announced that Delta Councillor George Hawksworth died suddenly while cycling at the age of 70. He is survived by his wife Noreen, and four children, Dan, Andrew, Paul and Jeanine.

An announcement was made to a stunned crowd that had gathered at South Delta Secondary School to protest the proposed rezoning of the Spetifore farmlands. The same hot button topic that he stood behind when he and his collegues running under the IDEA banner used to rout the Doug Husband led city council in 1990.

Flags at Delta's municipal facilities and schools were lowered to half mast in honor of Hawksworths memory. Mayor Lois Jackson issued a statement on the city's webpage.

"Councillor Hawksworth was an accomplished and valued member of our community, dedicating much of his life to making Delta a better place. During his time on Council, Councillor Hawksworth served on numerous Committees and acted as a liaison to many community groups. Councillor Hawksworth's commitment to the community and people of Delta was unwavering and he will truly be missed. He was an inspiration and great role model to all."

Hawksworth's sudden death leaves Delta's city council with a vacancy. A municipal by-election will be called to fill his seat. Funeral arrangements are to be announced.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Citizens Organize Public Forum to Oppose Loss of Farmland

Tsawwassen Aeriel PhotoMonday March 22, 2010 - A group of Tsawwassen citizens concerned about the potential loss of agricultural land have organized a public forum on Monday, March 22 at the South Delta Secondary School Auditorium to allow local residents the opportunity to voice opinions, concerns and ideas.

Tsawwassen is currently in the process of preparing a new area plan which, among other issues, includes the future of an area of land commonly known as the “Southlands”. This 538 acre property is currently designated agricultural but is owned by Century Holdings Ltd., who hope to change the designation to allow for a 1900-unit residential development to be placed on the land.

A survey collected at an earlier public forum showed that 65% of attendees would not support residential development on the Southlands, even if a portion remained agricultural. However the draft policy “Ideas” document from these forums still suggests alternate uses for farmland as a possible policy direction. “In a democratic process, the Ideas document should be a reflection of the majority public opinion, which is clearly against development of farmland,” said Dana Maslovat, one of the organizers of next week's forum.

Maslovat also said one of the purposes of the meeting is to try and get the next round of Tsawwassen Area Plan public information meetings to be an open mic format to allow the public the chance to speak and listen to other members of the community. Information will also be presented on the impact a change of designation may have in areas such as flooding, sustainability, wildlife conservation, and traffic. There will also be open-mic time to allow others with concerns about the possibility of a change in designation to be heard.