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Front Page


Jan 2016

Welcome to the North Van City News

North Van City News is a online news source for North Vancouver. Putting all the news, events and photographs into a weekly publication Editor@northvancitynews.com

WILL NORTH VANCOUVER CITY RESIDENTS AFFECTED BY LOSS OF VIEWS FROM DEVELOPMENT PURSUE A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT TO GAIN COMPENSATION?

By   Kerry Morris – January 20, 2016

‘…I think we want to be clear, from our prospective, listening to the neighbours who are now partners in a way through the purchase, we’ve never considered the conditions to be unlivable or untenable. Frankly, if we did think that way then we wouldn’t have ever supported the initial density. The conditions are inherently livable.

What was affected were the views…’ Said Toderian

So why should City taxpayers give a dam what Toderian thinks? Good question. The answer is; he has either caused your home or condo to double in value, or his comments have started in motion legal challenges that will eventually lead North Vancouver City to suffer the biggest legal losses in its history, and could even bankrupt the community! Do I have your attention now?

Toderian, who was retained by the City to help design the density bonusing formula (the compensation payable to the City for a density bonus above current OCP and zoning bylaws) has now crossed the floor and is advocating on behalf of developers before City council. This brought him to lead a delegation on behalf of SeaCliff Properties and their partners, the residents of Moodyville, updating council in respect of design plans for the south east quadrant of the area, referred to as LoMo by the lead community proponents, Michael and Michelle Binkley.  Click here to read the entire article


CITY   OF   NORTH   VANCOUVER   SEEKING REQUEST FOR   QUALIFICATIONS FROM A POSSIBLE PROVIDER OF LEGAL SERVICES

By: Kerry Morris – January 15, 2016

Should we be allowing a Mayor who benefits from golf junkets to Palm Springs and other destinations to vote on awarding a new legal contract to the law firm that pays for   those holiday’s?   I don’t think so!

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The City is currently circulating an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) seeking supplier interest in providing legal services. The RFQ document contains no particulars in respect of contract duration but does quote historical annual expenditures which range from a low of $601,456 in 2011 to a high of $884,198 in 2014 (the same year as the last municipal election). A 32% increase over 3 years, let me tell you that’s pretty big. (http://www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca/open.dll/downloadFile?sessionID=29605082&charID=31095883&disID=31095851&blobID=3289589&filetype=Blob).

The year over year increase in legal expenditures between 2013 and 2014 equals a whopping 28%, that’s incredible given such a short span of time. However, I don’t find this hard to believe when you consider that over the 2014 period, in the lead up to and then during the formal election period, the City threatened me with 3 separate legal actions, all of which involved communications with Bull Housser (sands Tupper), the City’s current service provider. The firm, referred to by some within the legal community, as ‘Bacon Ham & Tomato’ has represented the City for as long as I can remember. In fact, I cannot remember a time when Bull Housser did not act for the City, a cozy relationship to be sure.law and order 2

The list of actions in which Bull Housser is assumed to have represented the City was pulled from the online court services file and discloses nothing particularly abnormal about the City’s litigation needs in the 2014 period that would justify this massive increase in legal costs. I can only assume that the City’s actions attacking me designed to preserve the Mayorship of Darrell Mussatto, during the last municipal election, were in some measure responsible for this inordinate cost increase to the public purse. The fact is we will never know because despite repeated requests by others, the City has claimed they are unable to disclose the amount of public money spent on each and every file for which legal services are engaged.

That said, I do hold certain strong beliefs. I believe the City has spent a considerable legal sum analyzing each and every piece of correspondence and public Tweet which I have authored, re-Tweeted or liked, in an attempt to determine if they could bring a legal action against me for libel or slander, post election. I believe this activity is ongoing.

Additionally, they have had to deal with legal actions for wrongful dismissal for Mr. Glen Stanton, and a quite settlement with Ms. Sandra Dawson-Dunn, both of whom were paid handsomely for there wrongful dismissal and quite departure, not to mention yet another legal threat to Mr. Barnes.

But the facts remain, we as a City are spending a considerable amount of our public money on legal bills, much of which is not cost recoverable, despite the comments of our CAO to council when last asked to answer this very question. But should a cozy long term relationship, and access to an annual golf junket, be a valid reason to maintain a relationship with any supplier when paid with public funds? I don’t think so, but I also don’t think those are the only factors which should be considered.

While the term ‘Conflict of Interest’ when muttered by my mouth or pen tends to remind the reader of the numerous lapses in judgement in which ‘Slate’ members have forgot or mis-placed their duty to recuse, my reference in this case is all-together different. Funnily enough golf is not the central theme of the issue.

You may recall the now famous attempt by then Councillor Guy Heywood to have the City examine the possibility of increased co-operation with the District of North Vancouver. Guy’s thinly veiled attempt was to jointly higher, in co-operation with the District and the Province, consultants to conduct an examination of the synergies and just causes for 3 separate municipalities on the North Shore, but in particular, the stand-alone nature of governing the City and District as two distinct municipalities. While I do not share Guy’s immediate opinion that untold financial benefit would come from amalgamation, I also do not share the position evoking the equally famous and undisciplined response of Councillor Craig Keating, wherein he Tweeted ‘WTF’ slamming Heywood on ‘Twitter’ for supporting Amalgamation. Such behaviour is inappropriate for a councillor, especially while sitting at the council table, mid-council meeting, according to the council procedures bylaw. But Darrell ignored that one as he often does matters involving Craig. What is important to the discussion regarding the renewal of legal services is the reason Guy’s motion went down to defeat.

If you recall that Motion, you will also remember that support for the study was clouded by discussion put forward by the CAO and relied upon by Councillors Bookham and Clark. The allegation being that the District was refusing to honour the shared services contract involving the RCMP, and now owed the City an estimated $1.2M. This became the focal point of various nearly slanderous comments about the District’s conduct, and how the City should not seek to heighten cooperation with another municipal entity that does not pay its bills on time or in full, or honour it’s contracts. Tollstam is under investigation for this.

On the basis of this public accusation, council members pontificated on the need to reject Heywood’s proposal, and of course it went down to defeat. After this public insult Mayor Richard Walton of the District of North Vancouver wrote to Mayor Mussatto demanding an apology from council and the CAO for the misleading and maligning comments made in such a public venue as a sitting council session. A copy of that letter is enclosed. A larger copy is available on my website for those who don’t wish to squint. At no time since these events transpired has the City disclosed the necessary gumption to do the right thing and issue the public apology sought. I’m not surprised though, because I’m still waiting for several due me, of equally slanderous nature, both mouthed by Councillor Craig Keating, who has shown an unwillingness to do the right thing on his own behalf, despite a council bylaw that compels apology. Seems the bylaw is malleable depending on the source of the malignant conduct.

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The point here is simple, the District of North Vancouver, our immediate and ‘All-Around-Neighbour’, and the City are both represented by Bull Housser. Given the frosty nature of the relations, and the fact that various contracts when structured between the parties affect City interests versus District interest, is it really wise to engage a firm that has a shared loyalty? After all, if opportunity presents, will Bull Housser press the benefit for the City, or protect the District at the expense of the City? And indeed, given Bull Housser’s own potential conflict of interest in representing both municipalities in a common negotiation or contract, have they ever recused? That is a fact I’d like to know and see disclosed in the inevitable analysis.

All these factors draw me to the conclusion that it is time for Bull Housser to be traded. I’d also like to see a clause that says; ‘No paid golf trips for elected officials or staff’ because I don’t think we should refresh this problem!


WHY WON’T PREMIER CHRISTY CLARK SHOW SOME MOXIE

BY STIFFENING-UP CAMPAIGN FINANCE CONFLICT OF INTEREST LAWSpremier

By:   Kerry Morris   –   January 11 , 2016

Could it be that Christy won’t stiffen-up ‘Conflict-of-Interest’ legislation because it would mean she too couldn’t sell favours in trade for campaign finance support in public elections? If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on ‘YES’!

After a province wide engagement to consider campaign finance, wherein many of the participants tabled proposals for tighter ‘Conflict-Of-Interest’ legislation, Christy Clark has taken the low road showing no leadership in this area.premier 2

While I concede there are many good things in the new legislation, which requires a definitive schedule setting out the actual campaign finance limits, the fact is it lacks stiffer ‘Conflict-Of-Interest’ standards which should embarrass Clark.

As Canadian’s watch with interest, this years presidential election campaign south of the boarder, I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of us think Donald Trump is a ‘Horses Ass’, all-be-it a very rich one. So it is with more than a little trepidation that I point to a ‘Trumpism’ in respect of political donations that quite clearly hits at the core of the ‘Conflict-of-Interest’ issue.

Corporate and union donors to political candidates make those donations to ensure protection of their interests. Anyone who thinks that political donations come without strings is simply naive. For example, I believe every single dollar City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto took in the 2014 municipal election came to him with a string attached. The Gooding’s gave the ‘Slate’ $15,000, and they got a 6.25 FSR tower at 161 East Keith. Dito Tom Nellis who got the Mayors support for Gambling, which only went sideways when Keating got read the riot act for having hitched his wagon to a ‘Union-Buster’ like Nellis by CUPE, another donor (http://kerrymorris.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Union-Busting.jpg, http://kerrymorris.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/LRB-Decision.pdf) The Slate is going to vote down the Museum so they can give the Pipe Shop and Site 5 back, in part, to Pinnacle, another donor, in pursuit of the ‘Mayors Vision’ for the Shipyards. Hollyburn Properties, another donor, is going to get a green-light for a new 18 storey tower at 13th and Lonsdale. Then there is the Moodyville development advocates, who’s artist ringleader went door-to-door with copies of dirt he and his wife published on his website, in trade for the ‘Slates’ support causing transition of the City’s most affordable RS-1 housing into what will soon become the densest area in the whole of the City and the North Shore. Anthem donated to ‘Slate’ members and got re-zoning approval so that it could complete the purchase of the Ridgeway Annex school. And the list goes on.

In the last provincial election cycle, Craig Keating continued to sit as a municipal councillor. In the same month Keating voted to approve the Onni Centerview development proposal at 13th and Lonsdale, the largest and densest construction proposal in the City’s history, Onni made a $78,500 donation to the provincial NDP, the vast majority of which flowed to Keating in support of his campaign to become MLA in the riding North Vancouver Lonsdale. I believe Keating sold his vote for the Onni project so that he could access that donation. So wrong!

But the real question is, if as Mussatto makes a habit of saying, donors donate because they like his vision and not because they’re buying his vote, do you think they’d continue to donate if doing so resulted in he, Keating and the rest of the ‘Slate’, having to recuse from a vote involving a donor? I think not! In fact, if advocates for densification were compelled to recuse, then no developer in his right mind would want to compel their supporters to push back from the table withdrawing a supportive vote. And therein lies the rub. Christy Clark also wants to be able to sell political support to secure donations but would likely be caught up in the same difficult web at the provincial campaign finance level if she creates new municipal conflict of interest standards. Thus, NO political moxie.


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HOW HAS NORTH VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL AFFECTED YOUR 2016 TAX ASSESSMENT ? A NEW OCP!

By Kerry Morris

Property values are up throughout the Vancouver Lower Mainland, but nowhere more-so than on Vancouver’s North Shore, where West Vancouver’s waterfront has spiked to levels never before seen. But it’s not just the waterfront that is feeling the bump. The graphic data generated for the CBC camouflages some very real valuation spikes that hit at the very core of our community’s roots, namely RS-1 homeowners and long term renters of the City’s remaining affordable rental suites.

What the graph does not display is even more important than what it does display. That being the change in RS-1 home values in the City versus the District. Nor does the graph do anything to describe the impact those changes in land values are having on apartment buildings, affordable rent, and the ongoing supply of reasonably priced rental accommodations throughout the lower mainland, and in North Vancouver in particular. (https://www.biv.com/article/2016/1/property-assessment-rise-set-hit-renters-hard/)

My phone has been ringing off the hook this week with stories of property assessment increases ranging between$200,000 and $300,000, with people asking how this will affect municipal taxes. The answer, if history holds true, is not going to be good for City residents. Under normal municipal administrations a dramatic increase in property values would lead to a corresponding reduction in the municipal ‘mil-rate’ (the $1 for every $1,000 multiplier used to generate annual tax assessments). But the history in the City of North Vancouver has not followed this pattern.

In 2015 the City took the variation in value and rolled it into general revenue under the header of ‘Tax-Roll-Growth’. In this way they absorbed $2.762 million in new property tax revenue generated within the City’s borders, using this money to increase spending, on top of which they presented City council three options seeking tax increases ranging from a low of 3.9% to a high of 7.9% (http://kerrymorris.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Tax-Spend-Mussatto-Slate-Re-Jig-Priorities.pdf).

Council eventually settled on the lowest cost, Option-I at 3.9%, but this did not include or explain the shifting tax burden between condo’s, commercial businesses and RS-1 homeowners. When all was said and done, the actual year over year (2014 versus 2015) tax applied to RS-1 homeowners equated to an increase equalling as much as 8%. If the City holds true to the quite capture of the ‘Tax-Roll-Growth’ game it has played in previous years, then a status quo ‘mil-rate’ alone will see RS-1 taxes jump from 10% to 30% in the City. The only comfort you can take from all this is the fact that it could have been even worse. In my own block a home assessed at $1,038M sold for $1,410M, $372,000 over assessment (http://kerrymorris.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Yet-Another-False-Fact-Put-To-Rest.pdf) It has since gone back on the market at just under $1.6M. No word on its final sale price yet.

2 cost Within minuets of receiving my tax assessment I contacted a sitting member of City council to complain. The immediate response was; “Get in line Morris, your my 12th call this-morning. No one is happy. Just remember, I didn’t vote for the OCP which in part is causing this run-up in property values. That’s the fault of the Mayor and his Slate.”


hoardingNORTH VANCOUVER CITY HOARDING STANDARDS THREATEN RESIDENT SAFETY

By: Kerry Morris, January 5, 2016

Does the City of North Vancouver have such little respect for the safety of City residents that they are prepared to endanger residents lives in trade for a cozy relationship with the Mayor’s developer friends? The answer would appear to be YES!

The City has given Onni’s ‘Centreview’ construction project at 13th and Lonsdale a green light to provide sidewalk Hoarding protection to a standard that will do little or nothing to stop falling debris from the construction site. A falling bundle of rebar, were it to drop on this hoarding, will most certainly result in life threatening injury, possibly even fatality, for anyone walking in this ‘Death-Corridor’, in the event such an error does occur.

How is it that a City administration claiming to be ready for all this high-rise development could ever allow such lacks ‘Hoarding’ standards? That’s a good question. It’s not like they don’t understand what is necessary. One active example of current day Hoarding standards done correctly is found at the City’s ‘Wallace & McDowell’ construction site along its 2nd Street face. The use of prefabricated container corridors outfitted with lights and complete with entry/exit transition ramps discloses that the City is aware of what is necessary in such circumstances. hoarding 3

A n o t h e r N o r t h S h o r e construction site done correctly is found in West Vancouver along the 15th street face of that communities latest mega- project.

The Hoarding standards are well known and understood by Onni as they build in Vancouver City where published Hoarding standards are non-negotiable despite the fact that, like Darrell, Gregor is also a frequent beneficiary of the DeCotiis political campaign donation machine.

So why has the City allowed Onni to put North Shore residents lives in danger when walking East Lonsdale between 13th and 14th St.? The only plausible explanation is that Onni has accesshoarding 4

to lower safety standards versus those required of non-donor developers. I hope for all our sakes that no one is injured while transiting the Centreview ‘Death-Corridor’. If disaster does befall this error in City judgement, then we will undoubtedly be a party to the ensuing lawsuit. I’m shocked City staff don’t place a higher value on our safety!

 


 

 


 

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