Councillor Geoff Meggs accused of “bias” before public hearing on Concord Pacific project
False Creek resident Fern Jeffries believes that one Vancouver councillor has misbehaved.
Because of this, she wants Vision Vancouver’s Geoff Meggs thrown out of a public hearing Tuesday (June 10) on a condo project by Concord Pacific.
According to Jeffries, Meggs demonstrated in a blog post and a tweet that he’s on the side of the developer.
“This kind of bias that a councillor shows before a hearing is just unprofessional and inappropriate,” Jeffries told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview today (June 9).
Jeffries and Patsy McMillan, cochairs of the False Creek Residents Association, have asked Mayor Gregor Robertson, council, and city manager Penny Ballem to disqualify Meggs from the public hearing.
Meggs turned down a request by the Straight for an interview.
Whether or not he displayed bias is something that lone Green councillor Adriane Carr wants to establish.
According to Carr, she’ll raise this issue at the public hearing on Concord Pacific’s proposal to rezone a vacant property at 998 Expo Boulevard. The developer wants to build two 28-storey and 30-storey condo towers.
“What I will do is ask that he supply his blog post and his tweet to our legal staff, and that they rule on whether or not he should recuse himself from voting,” Carr told the Straight by phone today.
Carr stressed that councillors should come to a public hearing with an open mind.
The matter isn’t so much about Concord Pacific’s plan to develop 620 new homes in a land parcel called 5b West.
It’s more about the developer’s long-delayed fulfilment of a promise to deliver almost four hectares in park space in lot 9 of Northeast False Creek.
A staff report regarding the rezoning of 5b West devoted a portion to this issue that has riled residents for a long time. It’s this part of the document that Meggs referenced in a June 6 blog post and tweet.
Meggs wrote that the staff report “sets out the process in clear terms” how new green space will be created.
Meggs noted that as explained by staff, Concord will deliver the new park when it develops another parcel, called 6c.
“This is Concord’s last site for development on False Creek and the company says it is keen to get started,” Meggs wrote in the post that he subsequently took down.
The city staff report also noted that “moving ahead with an early park delivery has not been determined as feasible by the developer at this time”.
Meggs also directed readers of his blog to the developer’s web site to show that Concord Pacific shares the residents’ frustration over delays in having a new park.
Meggs also took to Twitter with this: “@FalseCreekRes do you agree staff report accurate with regard to process, various parties’ obligations? Looking forward to hearing.”
In a March 4, 2010, story by the Straight, Meggs had this to say when asked if the city will pressure Concord Pacific to fulfill its promised park: “They have their own timing, and there’s no way the city can compel them to move ahead if they are not interested in doing so.”
The land that is supposed to be a green space currently serves as a parking lot, home to Concord Pacific’s presentation centre, and rental space.
In May of this year, the False Creek Residents Association filed a petition before the B.C. Supreme Court questioning the city’s authority to allow the use of the site for commercial purposes even though it’s zoned for park use.
According to Jeffries, Meggs’s actions “cast a pall or shadow” on the public hearing.
“When people, citizens, regular citizens come to speak at a public hearing, it’s pretty intimidating to stand up there and the clock is ticking, and, you know, you’re contradicting the professional advice that they’re getting and so that’s kind of an uphill battle,” Jeffries said. “But then to be faced as well with the fact that the councillor is already favouring the staff report and the developer’s perspective, that makes the usual uphill battle just insurmountable.”