Our thanks to White Rock City Councilors Helen Fathers and David Chesney for Listening!

Helen Fathers and David Chesney are the only White Rock City Councillors who know that what is best for White Rock is also what is best for residents. And that means listening to residents, not just developers.

OUR VIEW: White Rock council was elected to listen – that includes question period - The Now

OUR VIEW: White Rock council was elected to listen – that includes question period – The Now

Mayor Baldwin and the White Rock Coalition Councillors are neglecting their fiduciary duty to the citizens of White Rock. Under the Local government Act, they are required to act in the best interest of the citizens, not themselves and not developers.
That includes public consultation in a public forum. Instead, the Mayor and the White Rock Coalition have closed question period. Residents try to get City Hall to listen to reason, but only developers with deep pockets get heard. Development is good, but we have to balance development with the valid concerns of residents. That requires listening to the people that live in White Rock.

We have four more years until the next election. So what can we do about the disgraceful way that City Hall is ignoring their responsibilities to listen to residents? They know that our only recourse is to take the City to court as the residents of Belaire have done. If you love this city and want fair representation, we will have to get organized, raise money, and take our own City to court. Stay tuned in the months to come.

A Letter from Margaret Woods Regarding the Loss of Question Period in White Rock

Looks like Democracy in White Rock went the way of the Dodo Bird on December 1st, the day the new council was sworn in.

First, let’s talk about question period. During the term of Hardy Staub as Mayor and Wayne Baldwin, City Manager, Question Period was cancelled. The next council, under Judy Forster, reinstituted it under a commitment to openness and transparency. It continued during Catherine Ferguson’s mayoralty and into Baldwin’s first term when things started changing.

There was a time when the 15 minute Question Period was held prior to the council meeting and anyone could ask a question about any topic. Many people attended and asked many important questions, important to them anyway.

Then along came Mayor Baldwin who decided for some reason to move it to the end of the meeting. The result of this decision? the number of questioners dwindled. People having to get up early the next day to go to work, couldn’t hang around all night waiting for a meeting that might never end.

But there were still some hardy folks who took the change in stride and continued to ask important questions. So Mayor Baldwin decided that only questions relating to items on the agenda would be allowed.

The same hardy folks persisted and continued to ask important questions. Somewhere along the way, Mayor Baldwin decided that the public, watching council meetings on Shaw Cable, should not be allowed to see or hear these important questions, so Shaw Cable was instructed to shut down the cameras before Question Period could proceed.

In the last few months, White Rock has moved into the 21st century and now our council meetings are streamed so that the public can see their Councillors live and in action at council meetings.

Now you have to ask yourself, why is the Mayor shutting down Question Period? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want the public to see that there are people out there who are asking important questions.

Mayor Baldwin stated that “there are three people, no more than that, who have ever made use of it”. This is one of his favourite things – making statements that he well knows are not true; just like all the supposed complaints about the Farmer’s Market.

Are you surprised that Councillor Sinclair thinks “it serves no purpose” and the Mayor says, “this does not seem to be of any value.”

Well, Mr. Mayor, the value to the people of White Rock, was the opportunity to remind all council that they are accountable to the people who elected them. But then, do they care what the people think? I wonder as I learn that plans for our city for the next 4 years were made at a 2-day meeting disguised as an introductory session for new Councillors.

How sad, that this council, at this early date in their term, have no compunction in breaking the law and demonstrating their contempt for the people they swore to serve to the best of their ability.
Margaret Woods
White Rock Resident and Former City Councillor

A Letter to Mayor Baldwin and White Rock Council on the Elimination of Question Period and the Muzzling of Citizens

To Mayor and White Rock Council.
I am opposed to the proposed amendment to Bylaw 1860 that will remove Question Period. I am most disappointed that City Council no longer feels the need to listen to questions from the public in a Public Forum. The Mayor and City Council should treat the public input process with the respect and dignity that citizens deserve. We both want White Rock to prosper. We, the public, and City Council are on the same team, or at least we should be!

Question Period is a valuable tool for the public to share concerns with City Council and for the public to hear those concerns as well as your response.

Removal of Question Period contradicts the Mayor’s own stated values!

Conflict with the Mayor’s stated Values:
Requiring questions to be received in private via email, phone, letter, or in person is in conflict with the Mayor’s values in which he states on his website that he values “Open Communication (value #6)” and “Respect for the Public (value #2)”. In 2013, the rules for Question Period were changed to prevent members of the public from asking questions not specifically on the agenda, and now in 2015 you are removing it entirely. This clearly violates the claim that you want “Open Communication” and shows disrespect to the public input process. In my opinion, this is a step backwards and so clearly violates value #5 regarding the desire for “Continuous Improvement”.

Conflict with the Mayor’s stated Goals:
This proposed change to silence the public through the elimination of Question Period will decrease the public’s confidence in its elected officials and is clearly in direct conflict with the Mayor’s #1 stated goal of creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance (click here to see the Mayors list of Values and Goals). In addition, it violates Goal #2 that states that the decision-making process should be “based upon principles and values that are respectful of the Public’s need for consultation“. Muzzling the public is clearly not respectful of the public’s need for consultation. The fact that this was pushed through first, second, and third reading on Feb 2nd prior to any printed newspaper notice given to the public further erodes confidence in this process as “creating an atmosphere of mutual respect” in our elected Mayor and Council nor does it demonstrate being “respectful of the Public’s need for consultation”. Disappointingly, quite the opposite is demonstrated.

Democracy and good governance can only exist when leaders are willing to be challenged and are willing to hear different views. I have always used Question Period in a respectful manner and have not seen any member of the public fail to present questions in an equally respectful manner. I see no valid reason to remove Question Period. When leaders stop listening, they also stop benefitting from the wisdom of those in the community that you claim to represent.

With all due respect, I ask that you NOT make this change to remove Question Period.
Scott Kristjanson

The Broken Promises of Mayor Baldwin

From the Mayor’s own web page:

On that page, the Mayor says that the Values he stands by are:
1. Honesty and integrity.
2. Respect for the public, other elected officials, and City staff.
3. Sound fiscal management.
4. Ethical behaviour in both business and personal life.
5. Continuous improvement in seeking excellence.
6. Open communication.
7. Innovation and creativity.
8. Decisiveness and common sense in decision-making.

The Mayor’s stated goals include:
1. Increase the Public’s confidence in their elected officials by creating an atmosphere of mutual respect, tolerance, and civility in our governance processes.
2. Institute decision-making processes based upon principles and values that are respectful of the Public’s need for consultation.

Actions speak louder than Campaign Promises!

Let’s save our Farmers Market. Remind the Mayor and White Rock City Council that the Farmer’s Market is part of White Rock’s Unique Character and it supports local businesses. It is also part of Bosa’s commitment to our community.

In 2007, the Bosa Towers were granted Bonus Height approval on condition that they provide space to benefit the community as a “social and recreational Hub” on site. But now the Mayor and Council has pushed back the Farmer’s Market set up time, and want to push the Farmer’s Market out entirely, eliminating some of that community benefit that was promised in return for the tower’s added height.

The concerns of thousands of residents were ignored when the towers were built, but one complaint from a Bosa resident and the Farmer’s Market is now being pushed out. Is this the “Respect for the Public” that Mayor Baldwin wrote about during his 2014 election campaign? Is this what he meant when he said that he believed in “Maintaining White Rock’s Unique Character”?

Sounds like a politician promising one thing, then doing the opposite.
Actions speak louder than political promises!

Click on the picture below to read the Peace Arch News story.

The White Rock Farmers' Market has been operating in Miramar Village Square since 2009

The White Rock Farmers’ Market has been operating in Miramar Village Square since 2009

White Rock City Council: Favoritism for the Few, leaves Frequent Frustration for Local Farmers and Residents Alike

White Rock Farmers’ Market start time too early?
The White Rock Farmers’ Market has been operating in Miramar Village Square since 2009 without a single noise complaint.
(See Peace Arch News White Rock Farmers’ Market disputes mayor’s ‘complaints )

The White Rock Farmers' Market has been operating in Miramar Village Square since 2009

The White Rock Farmers’ Market has been operating in Miramar Village Square since 2009

Yet Mayor Baldwin and City Councillors Bill Lawrence and Grant Meyer say that the Farmers Market 7am set up time is disturbing residents because one of their friends and fellow Coalition member, Cliff Annabelle, wrote the Mayor a single letter. Mayor Baldwin originally said that there had been many complaints over the years, then later admitted to PAN reporters that there are no other complaints on record. Just this one complaint, and in an instant, the rules for the Farmer’s market were changed because of this one complaint came from a friend of City Council.

If the Mayor and Council are so concerned about complaints, why did council ignore hundreds of complaints over the Vidal Street 12-Story Mega-Condo development that they approved? Or the White Rock Muffler Site Development’s excessive height? Or the sudden decision to move the location of the Evergreen Towers that needlessly destroyed heritage trees and impacted local residents and their property values? Or the hundreds of complaints over Omnibus Bylaw 2000 which allowed excessive heights on new buildings on the waterfront, blocking the view of all the existing residents and tax payers? Or the dozens of building permits that have destroyed heritage forests and allowed chain saws, jackhammers and trucks to disturb residents every morning at 7am?

Yet the mayor says “we have had complaints in the last couple of years” about the noise at the Market. Since when does one complaint constitute many? Clearly it does when it serves the Mayor’s agenda. Could this have more to do with White Rock City Council helping their fellow Coalition member while also sticking it to Councillor Helen Fathers who refused to join the Coalition in last years election?

Why is it ok for construction firms to start disrupting our city at 7am but not farmers? If only farmers could find a way to exploit local land to become rich so that they too could contribute to City Council campaigns. Perhaps they should build Condo Towers on their properties, then maybe our Council would listen.

Was this about Frustration with Farmers, or more about Friendly Favoritism for the Few? You decide.