Crawl Across the Ocean

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Blessed Are the Meek

Some local news, for a change.

The Now, website for a local newspaper in northeastern Vancouver, offers an unusual warning for a newspaper, 'Editor's note: This story contains language that some readers may find offensive.'

If you bravely click through here is what you get,

Shelter debate turns nasty

Police attend Coquitlam City Hall as angry residents shout at council members

"The crackheads will be in the park with their needles and sh*t like that. I'll leave a bucket of needles right by your door, too. Don't you worry."

"Are you going to pay for my house as well, when the property value goes down? I want top dollar for that, too."

"Remember, I've got your address. I'll find you."

Those threats exemplified the chaotic mood in Coquitlam council chambers Monday, as about 200 residents packed in to voice their opposition to a proposed homeless shelter in the city's Westwood neighbourhood. At issue was the first reading of a rezoning process for land at 3030 Gordon Ave., where a 30-person transitional house and commercial facility is being proposed.

In what was a roughly 20-minute long exchange, council members rarely got more than a minute worth of speaking in before heated comments began raining down from the viewing gallery. The situation reached such a fevered pitch that Mayor Richard Stewart requested a "discreet" RCMP presence outside the council chambers in response to threats being uttered towards him and other councillors.

As soon as councillors entered the chambers at 7 p.m., Hoy Street resident Garry Badour began voicing his displeasure.

"We don't want a transition house," he said. "We want a safe neighbourhood."

Stewart took the unusual step of addressing the standing-room-only audience before the meeting began, stressing that audience outbursts and applause go against council meeting procedures.

It didn't matter.

"Put it next to your house," Badour countered.

It was much the same as clerk Jay Gilbert read the rezoning item from the council agenda. Badour said, "We're opposed to that. We want to end it now."

Coun. Mae Reid, chair of the city's land use committee, tried to explain that passing the first reading of a rezoning application allows members of the public a forum to voice their views on the topic. Council eventually unanimously passed first reading, allowing a public hearing to go ahead.

"When we get something that's this contentious, the fairest thing we can do is move it to all the neighbourhoods that are affected," she said.

As Reid tried to continue, Badour cut her off again. From there, the meeting quickly descended into chaos, with multiple residents yelling at, and threatening, members of council and the local press.


I just thought I'd pass that along.

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