Letter in response to former Trustee Gisele Rudischer’s discussion of the Potlatch proposal in Oct. 11 Sounder

Tuesday, October 18 2016

When trustees make amenity-based zoning decisions on the fly, they are forced to negotiate from a position of weakness, while the community pushes them to accept whatever “carrots” are offered, regardless of cost.

Gabriolans learned this the hard way. That’s why our Official Community Plan disallows amenity zoning.

But when the OCP lays out how such decisions are made, trustees can negotiate from a position of strength. OCPs are created by the community so trustees know they outline the best and most democratically-based thinking of what constitutes a fair deal.

Sadly, as Rudischer noted, the Local Trust Committee has been saddled with a proposal that deviates significantly – and not to the community’s benefit – from the expectations outlined in the OCP. 

As a member of one of the neighbourhoods that would be impacted by the proposed density transfer, if trustees agree to that transfer I want them to at least ensure our sacrifice gets Gabriola the best deal our OCP can give us. 

Saying “no” can be the hardest and most courageous job a politician has to do.

But why have an OCP – or bother voting – if trustees can’t be, well…trusted to follow what is, in essence, our community constitution. Regardless of whatever pressures are exerted on them, trustees must understand their job is not just a popularity contest. 

So I want to commend Trustee Melanie Mamoser for her valiant efforts to defend our OCP. It can’t be easy, and I suspect she is getting a fair bit of grief for doing so. 

I also suspect she could use support for those efforts from other constituents. 

I hear that one justification for accepting a deal that would give us less than we are entitled to through our OCP is that “times have changed.”

I agree. Before the 707 Park density transfer, Gabriola had hardly any parkland. Now we have significantly more.

I can’t, for the life of me, see why this would mean we should accept a worse deal than the OCP requires. 

I’ll also note that if we’d been given enough staffing to finish our OCP review last term, the fact that it’s old couldn’t be used as an excuse to undermine it. Just saying.

For a rural Gabriola,

~ Chris Bowers