I learned a new tool at city hall this week called ‘rise and report’. This is the mechanism to bring decisions that were made in closed session into the public realm. I used it. Please read on; this is important even if you’re not concerned about the Northern Junk lands per se.

Many people are aware of the proposed development by Reliance Properties of the Northern Junk buildings at Pandora and Wharf. People have written to me both in support of and opposed to the development.

 Proposed condo building and refurbished Northern Junk buildings

This proposed development is far from the public hearing stage – that’s the time and place for the developer to present the project to the public and for the public to speak. On December 15th, the Governance and Priorities Committee of Council asked for more information before deciding whether to move the project along to the next phase – an analysis of economic benefits to the city, and to Advisory Design Panel and Heritage Advisory Committee. This information will be provided on January 26th.

Here’s the kicker. Many of the folks opposed to the project are opposed on the basis that public lands will be sold to the developer. Some claim that public lands should not be sold without going on the open market. Others claim that the boulevard in question is valuable public green space and shouldn’t be removed at any cost. It is too late. In closed session on January 14, 2010, Councillor Lucas moved and Councillor Luton seconded that Council:

1. Grant permission for the developer to submit a rezoning application for the City-owned land as shown on Map 1, attached to the report dated December 17, 2009, recognizing that this would not fetter their discretion on considering the rezoning and that Council’s expectation is that any rezoning proposal would:

a.) Be consistent with the height regulations contained in the CA-3C Zone (Old Town District)

b.) Be consistent with the Old Town Design Guidelines.

c.) Include a pathway connecting the bridge and Wharf St, the design of which acknowledges the public importance of this space and link.

2. Enter into an agreement of purchase and sale for the above noted property, at fair market value, once (my emphasis) any Official Community Plan and zoning amendments are complete and necessary development controls have been established.

Council passed this motion and committed public lands for sale to the developer, two years ago. I thought it important to ‘rise and report’ on this issue because it provides the full context in which we must all consider the proposed development.