Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie told an audience member at Monday’s council meeting to put down his phone and listen to council.
While it wasn’t necessarily breaking a fourth wall in a theatre performance, Brodie’s admonishment of an audience member broke from the normal deliberation between council members and consultation with city staff.
Tensions were high as councillors expressed their frustration at a jet fuel pipeline from southeast Richmond to the airport and a tank farm on the Fraser River being proposed by a consortium of airlines, the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation.
Brodie pointed out that nobody on council wanted the pipeline, but he was willing to support the agreement to access some Richmond roadways because it would bring significant benefits to the city and, also, because of legal advice that a rejection would most likely be over-ridden in the courts.
Near the end of the meeting, when dealing with the development permit for the marine terminal and tank farm, Brodie said if he could, he’d vote against it.
“I see that there are people here from the airport and VAFFC here tonight and I hope you carry that message back to wherever you came from,” he said, adding that council didn’t want the project in Richmond. “I see that guy with his iPhone all night – why don’t you stop, why don’t you listen to us for a while, this is important to the City of Richmond and we don’t want this. It’s just a question of whether we have any choice. So at least you could have the courtesy to listen to us for a change.”
Coun. Harold Steves said the pipeline issue had left a bad taste, because council was told at the beginning of the process they couldn’t offer any other solutions while he contended there would have been other options.
“With this going ahead, I will guarantee you, I will fight every step of the way,” Steves said. “If you plan to fly a new plane out of that airport or do any airport expansion, it’s time to keep the planes on the ground.”
There was opposition to the pipeline over the past 10 years as it has gone through planning and approvals, and a group called Vapor, largely spearheaded by Coun. Carol Day and former DFO biologist Otto Langer, formed to fight the pipeline. Vapor joined with Fraser Voices, a Richmond-based advocacy group, last week to urge council not to approve the pipeline, citing the danger to the environment and poor consultation.
Brodie agreed that the consultation with the public on the 13-kilometre pipeline was poor, calling it a “joke.” Once, he attended a public open house and there wasn’t even any paper to write comments on.
“It was a pretext of consultation as far as I was concerned,” he told the Richmond News.
Both the access agreement and the development permit passed with Coun. Kelly Greene, Michael Wolfe, Day and Steves voting against both.