File photo Current highrise construction in White Rock includes Miramar Phase Two, originally approved by council in 2009. A petition organized by Democracy Direct candidates seeks a moratorium on further highrise approvals.

VIDEO: White Rock mayor attacks ‘fearmongering’ candidates

Wayne Baldwin condemns anti-highrise petition, saying Democracy Direct candidates ‘not fit for office’

In his third to last council meeting, retiring White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin went on a self-described “rant” Monday against two candidates in the Oct. 20 civic election.

Baldwin accused mayoral candidate Darryl Walker and councillor candidate Erika Johanson – and, by implication, other members of Democracy Direct – of using “American-style politics” and social-media “fearmongering” in an attempt to get votes.

The occasion was Walker and Johanson’s appearance as a delegation submitting a 1,286-signature petition calling for a moratorium on highrises until “after the 15 highrises already approved by council have been completed.”

Baldwin’s comments came after council members’ questions to staff had thrown doubt on whether there are as many as 15 buildings in progress that qualify as highrises, and had established that no highrise developments are scheduled to come before council until after the civic election. They also came after Coun. Lynne Sinclair had described the petition – for which Democracy Direct had gathered many signatures at the White Rock Farmers Market – as “electioneering.”

“We have not allowed that before,” Sinclair said, adding she felt it is “inappropriate.”

“The next council should have a look at this.”

“It was my plan I would go quietly into the night,” Baldwin said, adding that the petition had given him “an opportunity to do a rant,” and that he did not consider the candidates an ordinary delegation, but rather they were appearing as a “political entity.”

Noting that 39 per cent of those who signed the petition were not White Rock residents – and raising the spectre of the 2009 Yearsley decision in which the B.C. Supreme Court had ruled that the city had incorrectly withheld a development permit for a six-storey waterfront development that had met OCP guidelines and zoning bylaws – Baldwin said the petition was “meaningless and disingenuous at best” and demonstrated a lack of knowledge that made the candidates “not fit for office.”

Baldwin also attacked Democracy Direct’s use of social media, pointing to candidate Scott Kristjanson’s Facebook posts referring to a council plan to build “30-plus highrises” – which Baldwin called a “total and utter lie” – and a claim that highrises were being used to launder drug money.

“If that isn’t fearmongering, I don’t know what is,” Baldwin said.

Johanson responded by email Tuesday that “Democracy Direct White Rock’s candidates and volunteers are engaging with the public, going door-to-door – something the (White Rock) Coalition candidates choose not to do.

“We have heard loud and clear: the residents are fed up with this Council and are fed up with being ignored,” she said. “They are overwhelmingly against any more high rises, which is what this petition was all about.

“By ranting on one of our candidates’ Facebook posts, Baldwin chose to deflect the fact that residents don’t want any more high rises. Baldwin knows no other tactic than to bully the opposition. He has turned the mic off when they speak against him and has even resorted to calling in the RCMP! I guess he has trouble using logic and knows no other way.”

Kristjanson told Peace Arch News the online reference to drug money refers to a B.C. government report on money laundering, and that Baldwin has been welcome to correct any inaccuracies he may have noted in his posts.

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