Straight questions might have led to Metro Vancouver snub, watchdog claims

Metro Vancouver has scrubbed one of its fiercest critics from Friday’s (February 18) agenda of the regional planning committee.

Randy Helten, founder of the websites CityHallWatch and MetroVanWatch, is a vocal opponent of the regional body’s nascent Regional Growth Strategy, a large legal document mapping the region’s development and planning out to 2040. Helten was scheduled to speak as a “regular delegation” to the regional planning committee about the RGS.

Helten said in a phone interview that questions the Georgia Straight posed on February 16 to Metro’s regional planner Christina DeMarco, who is overseeing the strategy’s ratification by all municipalities, “very possibly” led to Metro pulling the plug on his appearance.

“I think it’s very inappropriate and undemocratic and, indeed, unfair for them to be muting our public access this way,” Helten told the Straight.

Metro Vancouver agreed as far back as February 4 to allow Helten to address the committee, according to corporate secretary Paulette Vetleson’s letter to Helten, dated February 16. Helten said he also asked Metro to list the names of others, like Vancouver consultant and former city hall employee Elizabeth Murphy, who also wanted to address the committee. Instead, Vetleson’s letter informed Helten that his “acceptance as a delegation was made in error and has therefore been revoked”.

According to Vetleson, those wanting to speak about the RGS had their chance to do so at public hearings “held over five sessions” last year, on November 24 (two sessions), November 30, December 1, and December 2.

Helten said Metro has no grounds to erase him from the agenda, claiming that they are trying to silence him and others due to controversial aspects of the RGS, such as development on West Vancouver’s upper slopes. In her letter, Vetleson added that staff “will clarify the location of the Urban Containment Boundary in West Vancouver”, which was the subject of Straight questions to DeMarco. (In the subsequent Straight article, DeMarco stated that she has been “wrongly accused” by Helten and Murphy of previously misleading West Vancouver council and the Metro Vancouver board.)

Metro media-relations spokesperson Glenn Bohn told the Straight that Vetleson’s letter would serve as comment on the matter.

Helten said he plans on attending the regional planning committee meeting regardless and will attend the regular meeting of West Vancouver council on Monday (February 21), where council will hear from speakers about the RGS. Helten said he is not scheduled to speak at that meeting.



glen p robbins

Feb 17, 2011 at 8:29pm

There is no such thing as real Free Speech here. Politicos get away with limiting Free Speech because the general population believes they possess it - or alternatively know at some level it doesn't really exist and historically and previously could always point to some other area of the World that is really bad.

Bill Vander Zalm's Fight HST Petition actually saved British Columbia. The distance that Campbell created between government and the people - like Mars and the Moon - with the HST-- the understanding from BC Rail that the courts are just dressed up paper pushers with sombre faces and titles - making stuff up that most people don't fully understand or question - or don't have time to fully investigate----//the Police on film - that prick in the states executing the aboriginal man----murdering him in the street---had such a large segment of the population realizing how bad the truth of the situation was -- that if it wasn't for Vander Zalm and the others -- these present BC Liberal - NDP contests would have less than zero credibility.

The World is changing frendos -- the folks who run the political industry don't understand the market - they rely purely on control and the status quo-----and circumstances like this described in the story - in the cumulative are going to make for some very big surprises----when something snaps and its going to.

Transparency in the Golden Tower

Feb 17, 2011 at 10:26pm

Well it's sure good to see that our Metro overloads are so open to hearing from the public. The comment in their letter that “acceptance as a delegation was made in error and has therefore been revoked” might also be interpreted as "we were worried someone might say something with which we don't agree, so we've decided not to hear from them."

Second Nation

Feb 18, 2011 at 6:12am

Ahh, the tinfoil-hat crowd - I was wondering where they were!

That's right folks - there's a vast conspiracy out there that thwarts your success. They are the reason you're not doin' so well, it has nothing to do with yourself!

Taxpayers R Us

Feb 18, 2011 at 4:13pm

The Tides US/bike party, err.."Vision" has too much to lose by being up-front and open.