LETTERS: Uptown New West residents aren't anti-development

Dear Editor:

During the recent advisory planning commission meeting at city hall, more than 150 residents voiced our opposition to the proposed development at 616-640 Sixth St., in person and through correspondence. The reply from the commission was oddly reminiscent of Justin Trudeau’s response to B.C.’s opposition to the Kinder-Morgan pipeline; we hear your concerns, but we know what is best for your community, so too bad.

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I hope any developer or city representatives opposing the pipeline can see the irony.

I and many other residents have done our best wading through many bylaws, policies and various other documents to ensure that our opposition is backed up by facts and logic.

We are not anti-development; we are for fair and rational development.

No one is going to argue that putting people near amenities is a bad idea. We will argue that densifying areas that are already near saturation, when there exist many streets with significantly less density nearby, is unfair and unreasonable. Why does a two-lane, one-block street with five residential towers and the largest mall in the city need a sixth tower’s traffic added on?

We are tired of feeling like our voices are falling on deaf ears. We have pointed out a number of policies that this proposal is at odds with; we have 135 signatures on our petitions; we brought the biggest turnout to an advisory planning commission meeting in recent memory; and the vast majority of comments from past consultations were in opposition.

Still the city and developer have yet to respond to our concerns beyond telling us that this is “density done right.” The promised ongoing traffic study should be completed before we continue with this project. How many people do we need before our concerns are considered action-worthy? Or is it that we don’t have the support of the Uptown Business Association or local real-estate magnates? Indeed, they voiced their support, and it was heard loud and clear.

I am very concerned that the city has its mind made up on this and is jumping through the required hoops out of necessity. The Woodward tower residents did not receive notification of the commission meeting until four days before. They did not receive notification of Orr Development’s open house on Jan. 31. No less than two city staff and one developer representative last night had the gall to tell us the traffic impacts will be “negligible.” I’ll leave it up to you to decide if a 37 to 41 per cent increase in peak-time traffic volume is indeed negligible.

These facts do not illustrate an open, democratic and competently run consultation. The actions of Orr Development and the city are prime examples of why our society is wrought with lack of trust in politicians and businesses.

I call on the city and Orr Development to act with the professionalism and integrity we expect of our government and businesses. Despite challenging odds, we will fight on.

Brendan Demyen, New Westminster

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