Letter: Richmond city council got it right

Dear Editor,

Re: “Richmond city council twiddles thumbs, while oceans rise,” Letters,  May 11.

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I was intrigued by the writer’s disdain for what she observed in the video replay of the April 23 city council meeting, so I watched it myself. I did not see a council twiddling thumbs, heads planted in the silty sand or demonstrating disdain, as Ms. Li suggests.

The delegation was for a non-agenda item, meaning they were kindly afforded valuable council time for an item not originally scheduled. This itself is a strong suggestion that the city sees the topic as important.

The delegation had five minutes to present, as is common practice, yet with three warnings they could not complete their statement in that time. They were shown courtesy and patience but could have better timed their statement and shown council the same courtesy.

There was much discussion of a highly technical legal nature that, I suspect, only the delegation lawyer and our mayor (also a lawyer) could digest. What was uncovered was that the legislative “tactic” is novel, untested and broad. This does not suggest to me that simply rubber stamping the letter provided by the delegation was a responsible action.

The mayor was looking for insight about the impacts of such a strategy to a city initiating legal action. I suspect that means “what will it cost Richmond to take this approach?” The fact the delegation had not done such an analysis is worrisome, and council is prudent to have some sense of the investment that would be required to go down this road.

Coun. Alexa Loo suggested the delegation was acting as a lobby group, (they were lobbying Richmond council). She further noted that West Coast Environmental Law is funded, in part, by the Oak Foundation and Tides Foundation, groups that have opposed Canada’s oil sands. It doesn’t mean the delegates were bad people, but rather their suggestions and intentions need to be tested.

Lastly, I noted that the referral to staff was to analyze the potential use of this new tactic alongside other strategies. It was also amended to provide a short time frame for response, and deliverables in the form of a suggested letter to the provincial government and motion for the more appropriate and powerful forum of the Union of BC Municipalities.

Yes, doing nothing is not an option. Firing off letters without confirming the facts as they relate to our city is not wise. I applaud the majority of council that decided for a short pause to think before acting.

Roy Oostergo


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