Urgent message concerning Jericho Lands
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Dear Neighbours:
I’m writing you concerning a very important development concerning a major parcel of provincially owned land in the middle of our community. The Jericho Lands, bounded by 4th, Discovery, Highbury and 8th, are half owned by the federal government, half by the provincial government, and will be developed over the next decade.
The future of those lands are major significance to residents, local businesses, schools, community centres, and so many others. How and when these strategically located public properties are developed will shape the future of the west side of our city.
I’ve just found out that the province’s negotiations to sell their half of the lands are progressing rapidly, and that they plan to break their promise to consult our community before the land is sold.
The reasons for consulting before selling this land are obvious. Just some of the questions that should be answered before the land is sold are:
  • How and when should the land be sold? Should it be sold in smaller parcels or as an assembly? Should it be sold before or after rezoning?
  • Who should we sell lots on the site to?  For example, we could sell the whole parcel to the federal developer working on the eastern half of the property for a unified development. We could sell the property to a developer that builds luxury towers. We could sell lots to a non-profit organization or a co-op with plans for future affordable housing. We could sell a parcel to the city of Vancouver for a new community centre.
  • Should any land be held back from sale? The provincial government routinely holds back public land for future public uses. Schools, green space, senior housing, family housing, and a new community centre are all suggestions for the uses of this land already on the table. Buying this land back in ten or fifteen years for these uses will not be an option.
For many of the above reasons and more, the federal government’s development company has committed to extensive community consultations before selling any of the eastern half of the Jericho lands.
Until last week, on the provincial side, the provincial government had agreed with the federal approach. Former Minister Andrew Wilkinson said that if the province decided to sell, they would consult widely first:
“This piece of property is well known to many of us, and I think the member opposite has accurately summarized the shortlist of those who would have opinions on it and would be interested in any issues that arise or any plans that are formulating. I expect there will be fulsome consultation if there is any progress on any plan to do anything differently, other than the status quo, with the Jericho lands.”
But this week, with a change in the Minister responsible for land sales for BC, there was also a radical shift in the commitment to consult.
On April 15, I asked Amrik Virk (the new Minister responsible for land sales for the province) the same questions I’d asked Minister Wilkinson, expecting the same commitment to a careful process.
The new Minister confirmed December media reports that the provincial government had started exploratory talks with First Nations, saying that the talks had progressed rapidly: “I can confirm to the member for Vancouver–Point Grey that in recent months we have begun to engage in more formal discussions [on the sale of the land].”
To my surprise, after saying that sale negotiations were proceeding full speed ahead, he then announced that the provincial government would sell the property without consultation. Instead of the province consulting before the sale, he said the province would simply rely on the city’s rezoning hearings with the successful bidder as sufficient public consultation after the sale took place.
You can watch the Minister’s answers for yourself on YouTube here:
I’m sure you’ll agree this is a very concerning development, and a major shift in provincial government policy. There is no guarantee that the high bidder for this property will be a developer with our community’s future and interests at heart. In fact, the highest financial return from this land in the short term would likely come from exactly the kind of development our community doesn’t want – a field of vacant, luxury condominium towers.
A development like that will house few customers for our local businesses, no units for families, and no units for the vast majority of our seniors who want to age in their own home community. These kinds of developments in Vancouver house little, in fact, but a financial return for absentee property owners who won’t even be investing the profits they make flipping these units in our community.
We already have one Coal Harbour in Vancouver; we don’t need another at Jericho.
On April 29, 2015 from 7-9 p.m. the West Point Grey Residents’ Association is hosting a meeting on the Jericho Lands at the Jericho Hill Gymnasium at 4196 W. 4th Avenue.
They’ll be hosting the federal government developer for a detailed conversation about the federal plans for consultation. I’ll be at that meeting with an update on the provincial situation – anyone interested in this issue is welcome to attend.
If you’d like to take action before the community meeting, I’d encourage you to write to our former MLA Premier Christy Clark, as well as Minister Amrik Virk, asking them to consult before the land is sold. You may also wish to include Suzanne Anton in your correspondence as a local BC Liberal Cabinet Minister with a close connection to the Premier. She also lives on the west side of Vancouver.
Premier Christy Clark
Fax: 250 387-0087
Post: West Annex, Parliament Bldgs, Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4
Minister Amrik Virk
Fax: 250 952-0260
Post: Rm 346, Parliament Bldgs
Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4
Minister Suzanne Anton
Fax: 250 387-6411
Post: Rm 232, Parliament Bldgs
Victoria, BC, V8V 1X4
If you could, please carbon copy me as well on your correspondence. I can raise the points you make in the legislature on our community’s behalf.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message and learn more about this important provincial government issue that will impact our community for decades to come. Please don’t hesitate to contact me on this issue or any other provincial issue important to you.
Yours truly,
David Eby
Member of the Legislative Assembly of BC, Vancouver-Point Grey
Official Opposition Spokesperson for Housing, Liquor, Gaming, Tourism and BC Pavilion Corporation
尹大衛 - 溫哥華格雷岬區省議員 

You can read more about the Jericho lands here:
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