Council discusses benchland rumours

The topic of the Marysville bench lands rose again at Council this week and a lengthy discussion followed. Councillor Bev Middlebrook addressed several letters that were recently sent to the City.

“I want to bring attention to 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 [the letters] that were sent in supporting the bench lands being left as is,” said Middlebrook. “The formula for people that write letters [is]: for every one letter that is written, the formula and the stats show that there [are] 26 people who don’t write a letter [for every one sent in], but they believe and feel the same way. So when I did the math on that, we are close to 800 letters because there are 30 now. That’s quite a bit. We had 48 or 49 small petition letters sent in which brings our petition close to 600 and counting.”

At the end of the Council meeting, the topic was brought up yet again. Middlebrook says that rumours have been spreading around a business purchasing the 14 acres that are owned by the City.

Middlebrook says there are rumours about a potential sale of the bench lands and what price a particular business may be given, and that it was a a done deal. She said such rumours affected the city’s credibility.

Middlebrook continued, saying that she “sure hopes” that information is not coming from the City.

“This is not fact and people are upset over it and they are believing it, which I think is wrong,” Middlebrook said.

Councillor Kent Goodwin says that people shouldn’t spread rumours unless they can track it back to the source.

“It has been stated several time that there is no basis in fact to any of those rumours with respect to anybody….. purchasing any land that is owned by the City no matter where that land is,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “I find it extremely difficult to respond to rumours. If Council was sending letters out to people every time that a rumour started out there, we’d have to hire staff to do it. I’m not sure how to respond to that.”

“I don’t understand how they could say they are getting the land for a good price,” said Councillor Albert Hoglund. “The land has to go out on the open market. The City can’t just go up to [a business] and say ‘hey we’ve got 14 acres, you can buy it’.”

Councillor Darryl Oakley says that Council’s focus should be on the Official Community Plan (OCP) process.

“I don’t agree with Councillor Middlebrook. I think this is innuendo and rumours and that’s not our business,” Oakley said. “Our business is to focus on the OCP process which is ongoing and that [public] meeting will be set, a date will be set and that’s the focus. That’s it.”

“I think it is worthwhile that Councillor Middlebrook brought it up so we can put it to rest right here,” said Councillor Nigel Kitto. “We are moving through the [OCP] process and need to state, in fact, what that process is and we can say that the rest is rumour. I think it is valid that it’s brought up that there are rumours out there. We obviously need to be selling what the process is about to the community better so that they are aware of what the facts are.”

Councillor Sandra Roberts says that Council represents the entire community, “not just the folks who are interested in saving the bench lands.”

“We represent the entire community and therefore the ability to bring forward our points of view exists in the OCP plan,” said Roberts. “[The community] has the opportunity to go to the public meeting, ask all the questions they want, do everything they need to do, make all the comments they want and make their point of view known. That’s what is going to guide us when we keep going forward, not rumour, not lists of names, but those people going to the OCP [meeting] and making their opinion heard. What I’m seeking is the silent majority. Don’t be silent. We need your opinion.”

The next step in the OCP process is for Council to host a public meeting where members of the public will be able to ask questions and provide input surrounding all aspects of the community plan. The public hearing will likely be scheduled for some time in February.

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