The McCallum majority on Surrey City Council has evidently reached a comfortable situation in the waning days of its term of office.
Apparently the optics of the democratic process have ceased to mean anything to this particular group.
To wedge in a series of public hearings – some 15 in all – into a special afternoon meeting of council, as happened Monday, seems to have displayed a spectacularly cavalier attitude toward the ability of working residents to attend, observe and speak to the projects.
Viewed in the light that many of the projects under discussion were of no small import – a 482-townhouse project in South Surrey near the Fergus Watershed Biodiversity Preserve, and a five-highrise-tower project in the city centre among them – it begins to look like a calculated attempt to limit feedback on potentially sensitive projects.
And the council majority’s unseemly haste to vote – up to third reading – on the projects, no sooner than public comments were closed, suggests that it had no intent to listen to, let alone consider, anything said.
Most of the 12 residents who did manage to speak on the townhouse project considered it an ill-advised, environmentally-damaging solution to the housing crisis. But it does, as Coun. Linda Annis observed, represent a financial bonanza for the developer.
It also converts a large parcel in South Surrey previously designated ‘employment lands’ to residential – and this same majority on council used the argument of a ‘grave shortage’ of employment lands in Surrey to ramrod the environmentally questionable South Campbell Heights industrial plan through the Metro Vancouver board only months ago.
It seems that with this majority, principles and values shift as easily as the direction of the prevailing winds.