A legal petition was filed with the Supreme Court of B.C on March 02, 2016, seeking to stop the transfer of Winn Road to the George Hotel developer.
Petitioner, Marcia Timbres, alleges the Town of Gibsons has not met its obligations for public consultation under a number of sections of the Community Charter which is the provincial law that governs municipalities.
"Winn Road provides public access to the ocean and selling it off, [or giving it away to the developer], must not be done without extensive public input,” Timbres said. "There was never any public process for Winn Road. Instead, the Town just lumped it into the rezoning application and left the citizens completely in thedark."
Gibsonites were never told how our public road and beach access would be dealt with if the hotel development went ahead. A model of the proposed George development displayed by the town was inaccurate. Convoluted diagrams were supplied with confusing explanations on the lead-up to the hearing. Concerned citizens' questions and concerns were simply ignored.
On October 6th 2015, Gibsons Council approved the zoning bylaw for the George Project. At the meeting, Councillor Lumley was publicly scolded by town staff to, "Stay out of the details," when he tried to explain to citizens what he thought was going on. He said that people don't seem to realize that we actually get to keep Winn Road.
But Councillor Lumley was wrong. Regardless of the convoluted explanations the town told the public about "swapping" or "moving" the road, they always intended to 'dispose' of Winn Road and give it to the developer. Why did they go through so much trouble to avoid a legally required public consultation? Did the other councillors really understand what was going on when they voted in favour of this plan?
As with so many aspects of the non-compliant development application and the irregular rezoning process that have divided the community, Winn Road was mishandled and the Town of Gibsons refused to listen to citizens' concerns.
The Town's actions left its citizens no alternative but to take legal action by asking the courts to force Gibsons Mayor and Council to obey the laws and consult the public.
In an initial response to the petition, the Town of Gibsons has conceded that it did not undergo the required public consultation process for Winn Road. The Town now says that it is planning a public hearing for a future date. This remains to be seen.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Marcia Timbres, Gibsons Waterfront Defence Association.
Gibsons Alliance of Business & Community Society.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.gibsonsalliance.ca