Following mayor Sam Sullivan’s controversial move to fire the Board of Variance, recent comments by NPA councilor Suzanne Anton once again show the ruling party’s contempt for civic democracy and accountability.
Anton is quoted in a September 25 Vancouver Sun article on the Board’s firing, arguing that citizens of Vancouver will now have, in “special cases,” other ways to voice their concerns about development in their neighbourhoods. Anton offered, for instance, that residents could be invited to an “open house” to voice their opinion on a particular development.
“The board of variance was a serious tool to safeguard democracy in the city and can’t be replaced with powerless ad hoc measures like open houses” argued COPE’s External Chair, Pat Davitt.
“In recent years development in the city has increased exponentially and often developers are more concerned with their profits than with how these developments will shape the existing neighbourhood. The Board is essential to ensuring that Vancouver be a livable city, and the NPA decision to eliminate it is inexcusable,” concluded Davitt.
Penny Street, who is an organizer with the Friends of Salsbury Gardens, a group that brought their concerns to the Board of Variance and won, stated, “the recent Supreme Court decision means that the decision by the Board is overturned and our community will now lose a very treasured park.”
Street added, “Citizens need to have a formal process to communicate when a development is not appropriate for a neighbourhood, and open houses are not going to cut it. Our community has gracefully absorbed new developments and higher density, but we have not gotten any benefits in the form of parks. In fact, we are now losing one, as the process of developing Salsbury Gardens into duplexes has already started.”
COPE urges the provincial government to amend the Vancouver Charter to allow third-party appeals.