scofflaw council costs us all

Municipal politicians willingly ignored city laws. That error will cost a local businessman a significant amount of money.

Municipal politicians willingly ignored city laws.

That error will cost a local businessman a significant amount of money.

It will cost the city a lot of time and money.

It will reopen a longstanding and divisive debate among citizens.

Our city leaders owe us all an apology.

The city’s own Official Community Plan called for detailed hydrological and hydrogeological assessments before rezoning the land to allow development of a quarry and concrete batch plant.

And, as late as February, citizens warned city politicians that they ignored city laws at their peril.

“Here we are, a year later, and everybody says that ‘shall’ doesn’t really mean ‘shall’, it means ‘shouldn’t’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘let’s think about it,’” said Carole Bookless, a local planning expert, at the time.

“I find this offensive because the city is applying the rules differently to different projects and the city is not allowed to choose to apply the laws differently in one case than another — that is the definition of anarchy.

“Who would want to live in a community where laws apply differently from day to day?”

Well, apparently, politicians fed up with drawn out planning processes.

They ignored the solid legal advice provided by Bookless and several other citizens and pushed through the zoning change.

That sparked a Yukon Supreme Court challenge. And the city lost.

Bookless, it turns out, was right. The city was violating its own Official Community Plan.

City politicians and staff goofed. Badly.

Because of that, the whole process must start again. From the very beginning.

More studies. More public consultations. More votes. More consultations … more delay for the businessman who faces more delays because of council’s gaff.

And the renewed debate promises to be divisive and costly.

All because city politicians were willing to play fast and loose with city laws.

There is a lesson here.

But we’re not optimistic the sitting council will heed it.

Why?

“I may be proved wrong, but I won’t be alive to see it and if it’s my legacy, well, too bad,” said councillor Dave Stockdale’s just before February’s unanimous and wrongheaded vote.

If he had any integrity at all, he would apologize to his constituents.

In fact, all the councillors should. (RM)