Hello Jericho Neighbours!
There are two updates on the Jericho lands. One concerning update from the province, and one hopeful update from the federal government’s development company.
The provincial news comes courtesy of the Minister for Citizen Services, Amrik Virk. Mr. Virk’s ministry is responsible for the management (and if necessary development or disposal) of the provincial half of the Jericho lands.
By way of background, Mr. Virk was shuffled out of the Advanced Education portfolio into Citizen Services about a year ago after his involvement in a scandal in his formal role as a board member at Kwantlen University. You can read more about that here.
Unfortunately, Andrew Wilkinson, who was the previous Minister responsible, was moved out of the Ministry responsible for Jericho and into Mr. Virk’s role in Advanced Education. This move was unfortunate both because Mr. Wilkinson has a reputation for integrity which is needed in such a delicate and valuable land deal, and because he had committed to our community (of which he is a member, living just up the hill in Shaughnessy) that the government would consult widely before selling the provincial half of the Jericho lands.
Many of you have written to Mr. Virk since his appointment asking him to involve our community in the planning process. He is finally starting to reply to those who provided e-mail addresses to his office.
His standard form reply appears to confirm his willingness to break the promises of his government made by Mr. Wilkinson to consult before selling. Further, he seems also to believe that the City of Vancouver somehow is an appropriate body to consult our community about the best use of these public, provincial lands even though they have no ownership stake in the land.
While I suppose we should be grateful that he didn’t delete our community’s e-mails, his reply attempting to avoid all responsibility for the future of this public land leaves much to be desired and we need to keep the pressure on.
Here is the full text of his message sent to one of our community members. I note that he cc’d his message to the public e-mail addresses of the Premier, BC Liberal MLA Suzanne Anton who is also a member of our community, and me:
From: Minister, MTIC MTIC:EX [mailto:TIACS.Minister@gov.bc.ca]
Sent: November 18, 2015 11:00 AM
To: [NAME DELETED]
Cc: OfficeofthePremier, Office PREM:EX <Premier@gov.bc.ca>; Anton.MLA, Suzanne <Suzanne.Anton.MLA@leg.bc.ca>; Eby.MLA, David <David.Eby.MLA@leg.bc.ca>
Subject: Jericho Lands
November 16, 2015
Dear [NAME DELETED]:
Thank you for your correspondence regarding the future of the provincially owned Jericho Lands. The Province is currently fulfilling its legal duty to consult with First Nations regarding the future of the lands. Out of respect for the First Nations consultation process, we intend to conclude those consultations prior to making any commitments or taking any further actions with regards to the future of the lands.
Consultations with First Nations follow a process between the Province and the First Nations as detailed in the guidebook, Updated Procedures For Meeting Legal Obligations When Consulting First Nations (May 2010), which can be found at this link:
Following the completion of consultations with the First Nations, if a decision is made to change the use of the land, those proposed changes would have to be approved by the City of Vancouver. This process involves extensive public consultations regardless of the proponent.
It is our understanding that the City of Vancouver’s current planning process for major projects includes robust and exhaustive community consultation, which involves the following:
• The City creates a policy statement for a specific property that is open for potential development. This is done in collaboration with the community, the proponent and other stakeholders.
• The City then undertakes the community engagement process on land use, typically consisting of town hall meetings, mail outs and other communications as appropriate.
• Results are then overlaid with the higher level policies of the City to reach a decision.
Up to date details on the City’s requirements and planning processes can be found on the City of Vancouver’s website.
Hence, we expect that there will be ample opportunities for consultation prior to a decision on the type of potential development.
Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services
Implications of provincial response
The key line Mr. Virk’s e-mail is “if a decision is made to change the use of the land” in which Mr. Virk uses the passive voice in an attempt to avoid his personal responsibility, and the Premier’s responsibility, for the decision about the future of the provincial Jericho lands. A decision about Jericho will not be made by some unknown force and imposed on Mr. Virk and Premier Clark. The decision will be made by them with the support of BC Liberal cabinet ministers like our neighbours Andrew Wilkinson and Suzanne Anton. The question is whether or not this government will consult with our community before deciding to sell.
First Nations title claims to the property
Mr. Virk mentions the obligations of government to consult with First Nations in his response. Full consultation and a just settlement with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples is a legal obligation on Mr. Virk’s government and all future provincial governments. This is especially true in the situation of the Jericho lands where historic use of these lands by First Nations is obvious, and these lands were never handed over by treaty.
While the provincial government has an obligation to negotiate with and deal fairly with First Nations, the content of any just settlement with First Nations, whether through money, land, or some other arrangement, is strongly informed by the value of the land that is part of any settlement package. That value is established by determining what zoning and other public or private use encumbrances, and in the case of Jericho, potential environmental contaminants, are on the land.
The province has commissioned formal estimates to advise them how much Jericho is worth to inform these negotiations with First Nations. But what zoning assumptions were used in these estimates, and what affordability and environmental requirements were built into that valuation? On what basis were those assumptions made? We can’t know, because Mr. Virk, Premier Clark and their government refuse to release any documents under Freedom of Information that include these details.
Even under the Federal Conservative government which shuttered our coast guard base without consultation, the Canada Lands Company (the Federal government’s development arm) committed to broad community consultation before proposing rezoning to the City of Vancouver and before selling any property to private developers. This arrangement was agreed to by First Nations who are partners in this Federal process.
For some reason the province is totally unwilling to make a commitment to similar community consultation for their half of the land.
This brings me to the second, short, piece of news from the Federal Government on their half of the land. A constituent recently shared with our office the following correspondence with the Canada Lands Company, which is leading the development for the Federal Government on the Eastern half of the Jericho Lands where the military base is located.
I’ve reproduced the content of the e-mails in chronological order.
From: [NAME DELETED]
Sent: November-25-15 1:27 PM
To: Robert Howald; email@example.com
Subject: Jericho Lands Update?
I attended your update meeting in the Spring (April 29), and noted a pledge to begin formal public engagement in the Fall.
Is there any news on this?
To: [NAME DELETED]
Subject: RE: Jericho Lands Update?
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2015 20:17:41 +0000
Hi [NAME DELETED], thanks for your inquiry. It is anticipated that public engagement will begin in Spring 2016.
Deana F Grinnell, MA, MCIP, RPP
Senior Director, Real Estate | BC Region
Canada Lands Company | Société immobilière du Canada
2nd Floor, 4949 Heather Street, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 3L7
Tel/ Tél : 604-257-0147 (direct) 604-351-3562 (mobile) | Web: www.clc.ca | Email/Courriel: firstname.lastname@example.org
A planned public information session scheduled for Brock House in November where the Canada Lands Company would be presenting on the process they intend to follow was recently cancelled.
It looks like public consultation on the federal half of the land has, understandably, been delayed in light of the change of federal government. I hope this is good news for prioritization of affordability, community input and key environmental features in whatever development takes shape on the site. Joyce Murray, our re-elected federal M.P., continues to monitor the federal situation on our community’s behalf as she has for many years now.
Thank you for your continued interest in the Jericho Lands. If you have friends who would like to receive these Jericho update e-mails, please tell them to e-mail email@example.com and ask to be added to our Jericho land e-mail list.
See you around the neighbourhood!
David Eby - 尹大卫
MLA, Vancouver-Point Grey