George Public Hearing Process Flawed

Numbers don't add up with written submissions for the George public hearing.

An investigation has revealed serious problems and irregularities with the written submissions for the George Hotel Public Hearing process. The problems have affected submissions both in support of the George and opposed to it. 

Attempts to clarify matters with the Town have failed. 

Submissions were missing, numbers don’t add up, and the official record has changed. The litany of problems included ill-defined deadlines, no clear rules, and arbitrary decisions. The monitoring of different email addresses was inconsistent, and there were scanning problems. Based on these written submissions from citizens, Council approved the George Hotel and Residences OCP Amendment Bylaw and the George Hotel and Residences Zoning Amendment Bylaw at the Council meeting of October 6, 2015. At the Public Hearing on October 1, about 40 per cent of the oral submissions were in favour of the George. An unscientific poll in the Coast Reporter showed approximately the same results. Yet according to the Town, about 70 per cent of the written submissions for the Public Hearing were in support of the George.

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Accessing Information at the Town of Gibsons

Anyone following the saga of "The George" over the last three years will know that attempts to access information from the Town of Gibsons about anything related to the hotel, condo and marina proposal have been met with resistance. 

In response to inquiries, Mayor Wayne Rowe’s rote reply has been that he "could not recall" secret meetings he attended, critical information discussed in meetings, nor which of the George project property real-estate transactions he handled for his client Klaus Fuerniss.

The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Emanuel Machado has also become evasive about answering questions on issues of contaminated site clean-up, geotechnical reports and Ombudsperson complaints, to name a few. When asked, if the Town had received legal advice about the mayor's perceived conflict of interest with the George developer, Machado flatly refused to answer the question. 

As a result, GABC has been forced to file Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to get answers to these serious questions and concerns.

How to frustrate FOI-requests from citizens

In 2014 and 2015, grassroots advocates in Gibsons BC made Freedom of Information (FOI) requests for public documents to the Town of Gibsons. They spent $6,646.56 and received 3900 pages of documentation, much of which was useless.

If there is a manual on how municipalities can frustrate FOI-requests from citizens, the Town of Gibsons may have written it.