Biggest development issue ever to hit Gibsons was rushed through in an hour

The George violates bylaw height limits

Though the outcome of Tuesday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting where the George hotel was on the agenda was predictable, the way it went down was disturbing.

Inquiries from the public were put off until after the staff report and the subsequent vote. (See Public Inquiries below for more information.)
Director of planning André Boel took about half an hour delivering a power point presentation of his report, ending with five recommendations for Council. The report also included five alternative recommendations, which were never discussed as the meeting went on. (See Planner’s Reports and Recommendations below for more detailed information.)
The elected people began by weighing in with their thoughts and concerns about the project. Then, without any deliberation of any of the actual recommendations, Councillor Tretick moved the five staff recommendations as written. Councillor Sanjenko immediately seconded the motion.
With the motion on the table, Councillor Johnson asked to have the recommendations separated so that council could deliberate on them individually, as she said she could support some though not all of them. But rather than discuss any of the individual or alternative recommendations, as would be the normal process, Councillor Johnson’s request was denied, and Mayor Rowe called the vote.
The biggest development issue ever to hit Gibsons was rushed through in an hour.
And it was decided 3:2 in favour of Breaking the Rules to benefit the developer. Mayor Rowe along with Councillors Tretick and Sanjenko voted in favour of the 125-foot-tall mega-project, denying provision for credible view analysis and economic considerations before moving forward.
Councillors Johnson and Bouman opposed moving forward on the risky project without further information, although they both said they could support a hotel project, if it respected the OCP and protects the aquifer.
As designed, the George is too big and too risky and it breaks the rules to benefit the developer, not the community. The George will be on many Council and committee agendas over the next weeks and months. Council should be voting on the recommendations they passed at the CoW on Tuesday January 21st 7 pm - Council agenda item #8 .
If you don’t want this risky mega-project rammed down your throat, it’s time to get involved. Please find the GABC George Hotel Factsheet attached. Please disseminate this information far and wide and please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Public Inquiries

Mayor Rowe decided to skip the inquiries section on the agenda prior to the staff report, even though a member of the gallery had a hand up to make an inquiry.
Inquiries after the vote included several pointed questions about risks to the aquifer, traffic impacts for residents of the area, exaggerated economic benefit projections, possible alternative scenarios to a massive hotel that would comply with the OCP, potential legal liabilities the Town could face by ignoring the OCP, view impacts, and other risks. In response to questions, the mayor was curt and at times dismissive. Most questions were left unanswered.
The inconsistent and dismissive tone of the meeting could be summed up by the following anecdotes:
When a resident concerned about the depreciation in property values from loss of views for many neighbouring properties asked for support from council to determine these impacts, Councillor Tretick responded unsympathetically, saying, "There is a bigger picture than the not-in-my-backyard syndrome,” telling the resident that some citizens would have to get used to losing a “little bit” for the greater good of the community.
Wayne Rowe assured the crowded gallery that the economics of the Town’s infrastructure will “weigh very heavily ”on his decision-making process around the George. Yet in response to an inquiry about the skewed and lacking economic assumptions provided by the George developer, Rowe said, "Quite frankly, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to those numbers."

Planner’s Reports and Recommendations

The planner’s latest report (CoW Agenda - Staff report re: George) seemed to contradict a number of the issues he raised in his July 23rd report to council. (CoW agenda July 2013 staff report re: George hotel)
For example, in July 2013, the planner said that the anticipated density for any site in Gibsons was no more than 1.4 floor space ratio (FSR). However, on Tuesday Boel commented that the new design with an FSR of 2.6 “…could be considered to comply with the OCP.” Unlike his previous report, his report on Tuesday lacked any real criticism, counterbalancing negatives, or cautionary advice about the project and quoted the developer’s materials verbatim. This is not the kind of professionalism we expected from the planner. It felt almost as if a third party had gone through the planner’s report and culled anything that might be negative.
The planner ended his presentation with five recommendations for Council:
1. THAT staff's report regarding the George Hotel application be received;
2. AND THAT Council request staff to prepare a draft comprehensive development style zoning-bylaw for Council's consideration;
3. AND THAT Council request staff to report on the provision of affordable housing and community amenities under Council Policy 3.14;
4. AND THAT Council request staff to arrange an independent review of the proposal's geotechnical investigation by a geotechnical engineer selected by the Town, as well as a hydrogeological review of the proposal by Waterline Resources, and that the cost of both studies be covered by the applicant.
5. AND THAT the Council request staff to prepare a report and draft a Development Permit for form and character for Council's consideration based on the response and updated drawings from the applicant provided in response to the Advisory Planning Commission recommendations.
Beside these five recommendations, the planner had five alternative recommendations. These alternatives were omitted in his oral presentation and were never discussed at all as the meeting went on:
Re: APC: The Advisory Planning Commission could be consulted for a second time in the near future if Council so desires.

Staff recommendations are listed on page 1. Alternative recommendations are listed below.
Alternatives regarding form and character:
To request additional details regarding form and character:
That staff be requested to provide further information to Council regarding form
and character by:
• Providing a visualisation of the proposal in a 3D model of the Harbour area
provided by a third party
That staff be requested to provide further information to Council regarding form
and character by:
• Providing additional visualisations by a third party showing the proposed
buildings as seen from ground level from various vantage points
To support the current form and character as proposed:
That Council support the current design and request staff to prepare a more
detailed report and draft Development Permit for form and character for Council's
To request a different form and character:
That Council does not support the current design and request staff to inform the
applicant that the proposed development be revised by reducing the proposed
height and mass.
Alternative recommendation for additional information for the zoning bylaw amendment:
• That staff be requested to arrange for an third party evaluation of the economic impact on the community (employment and local spending) and property tax implications