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Council unfair to city residents

Dear Editor: At the New Westminster city council regular meeting on Oct.

Dear Editor:

At the New Westminster city council regular meeting on Oct. 15, I watched with bemusement Bill Harper and most of fellow councillor cohorts chastising Catherine Cartwright for saying "the fix is in" in regards to the Elizabeth Fry development.

She pointed out her statements are reflecting what the community of lower Sapperton is feeling in regards to this council and city staff's comments and actions surrounding this proposal. Why does the community feel this way?

1) On May 2, the McBride-Sapperton Residents' Association voted 36 to 0 against the Elizabeth Fry development.

I wonder if Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, who is a past president of the Brow of the Hill Residents' Association, can remember council going against such a one-sided residents' association decision?

2) 94 per cent of residents of the closest three streets signed a petition against the development.

3) After the 36-0 vote at the meeting mentioned above, Bill Harper, who also attended the meeting, commented to a resident "Well you stopped the United Boulevard extension . " By not following up with any other comment the impression was left that we were not going to win this one.

4) Coun. Chuck Puchmayr was seen to be continually picking lint from his pants, consulting his phone, or was otherwise distracted, while our speakers were making presentations to council.

5) At the official community plan amendment public hearing, Coun. Jonathan Cote read from a fairly detailed statement supporting EFry immediately at the end of the presentations.

If his mind is supposed to remain open until the end of presentations how could he find the time to write such a detailed response between the end of presentations and his turn to speak?

Either his mind was made up earlier or he has amazing speed speech-writing capabilities.

6) In normal OCP amendment processes it is up to the developer to organize and hold the open house. So why did the city take on this job for the May 2 open house? This implies the city is fully integrated into the proposal.

7) With the start of the current rezoning process it was revealed that the daycare was dropped (they claim temporarily). The residents have continually pointed out to council that, as then structured, the daycare would never fly.

We did the due diligence - the city should have done by contacting the licensing authority. They would have found that the licensing authority would never allow Sapperton Park to be used as a daycare play area due to the busy streets that would need to be crossed.

Even after informing the city of this, the city's support of the project never wavered.

8) Even though the daycare was dropped and, thus, two of the three city strategies claimed to be supporting the development are gone (daycare and employment), not only did the city not have a re-examination about the worth of this project to the city and the neighbourhood, it approved an expedited rezoning process with a shortened timeline.

So, Mr. Harper and council, yes, the residents do feel city council and staff have stacked the cards against us. This should be a cautionary tale to any other area of the city. This council, with the exception of Betty McIntosh, does not care about local neighbourhoods. We will remember this two years from now at election time.

Gerald Sommers, New Westminster