Skip to content

Taking fighting for democracy to court

The Editor, Re: "Ottawa erodes democracy," Letters, June 15. It's tax time, time to pay for the governments we have deserved.

The Editor,

Re: "Ottawa erodes democracy," Letters, June 15.

It's tax time, time to pay for the governments we have deserved.

My last and enduring hope is that I am wrong about most of what I think I know about our municipal, provincial, and federal electoral and bureaucratic systems. It does nothing to assuage my pessimism about the future for your children and mine when a person of Dr. Richard Mathias's intelligence, knowledge, experience, and integrity agrees with me.

I would have greatly preferred that he disagree and hold out some hope for true democracy, that he have offered some alternative to fixing a flawed system with a flawed system, and that he give me some reason for abandoning the legal alternative I am following as a last resort because it isn't that I don't have better things to do.

First, fighting is stupid. I have the scars to prove it. Even when you "win," you pay a price in injury, pain, money, time or inconvenience.

Second, the reason conventional wisdom has it that "you can't fight city hall" is that city hall, certainly The Richmond City Hall, fights back with your own tax money. You are paying them to beat you down.

A sad example of this is my own B.C. Supreme Court Petition which originated with a B.D.A.S. ruling in November 2009. The fact that a municipal bylaw process overrules the Canadian Constitution and Freedom of Rights should be of concern to everyone. The attorney representing The Hall, in an effort to persuade me to drop the petition, offered my attorney:

? A one-time RCMP blitz in front of Lord Byng School (after initially saying The Hall could not control RCMP enforcement against dangerous driving at this location) but no ongoing enforcement;

? A review of the school zone signage (after initially saying it was adequate) but a refusal to even consider installing a radar speed reader board such as is located at other high risk traffic locations in Richmond;

? A neighbourhood survey of Georgia Street residents about the possibility of future installation of speeds bumps, contingent upon a consensus. Does anyone remember a survey and consensus for the millions spent on the Olympic Oval, public art acquisition, The Tall Ships, or the Dogs in Parks Taskforce, unless it was a corporate consensus?

Now, I have first-hand experience of how The Hall's surveys work: After spending gobs of tax money The Hall does what it damned well pleases, or nothing, regardless. It is, in my view, an exercise in futility.

In return for these dubious concessions, The Hall's attorney demanded a promise from me to obey the bylaw that puts me at risk. Well, my life may not be worth much, but I hope it is worth more than a $35 parking ticket. Even if not, the lives of the youngsters, parents, elders and disabled people transiting Georgia Street sure as hell are!

Finally, The Hall conducted a "site survey" Oct. 20, 2010 with two senior staff members, a traffic technician, and an RCMP sergeant. Affidavits were sworn by all, as well as other staff, and provided me, through our respective attorneys, in two Cerlox bound volumes which, together with attachments, charts, tables, diagrams, fold-out aerial photographs, deck level photographs with notes and arrows, a response to my petition, and associated correspondence, not including covers and binders, comprises approximately 150 pages!

If any of the many News readers who have expressed their concern about spiraling taxes (e.g. Surplus spending questionable, Clarke Carry, The News, June 15, 2011, p.12) are curious about how much all this, without actually accomplishing anything, is costing them in taxes, I encourage them to seek answers from The Hall through Freedom of Information before, as Dr. Mathias illustrates, our deteriorating democracy eradicates that too, as it has the federal popular vote payment to political parties.

Ramblin' Ryan Lake, Gnarly Old Dudes and Dames of Steveston