Please bear with me, because this is going to take a few minutes.
You might have heard or read about the big controversy surrounding Council's late-July decision to approve, on a two-month trial basis, a full truck route along the north end of Mariner (essentially, the big, twisting hill from Como Lake to Dewdney Trunk Road) and along the full length of Como Lake Avenue.
Council did this by a 6-3 vote (with Mayor Stewart, Councillor Brent Asmundson and me opposed) even though there had been no public consultation and the GM of Engineering said he couldn't recommend it.
Council took the action following several long and lengthy meetings with Coquitlam Concrete owner Jim Allard, who aggressively pushed for wide-open truck routes through Coquitlam to help his trucks avoid traffic congestion caused by Evergreen Line construction and also to take a more direct route to the Centennial Secondary construction site from his Coquitlam River-area operation on Pipeline Road.
The issue was on a slow boil through the summer until candidate Teri Towner distributed a pamphlet earlier this month alerting the residents to the decision. Then all hell broke loose. The folks in the affected area were of one voice: No Way!
Surprisingly (to me, at least), three councillors who voted for the trial, Lou Sekora, Bonita Zarrillo and Chris Wilson, accused Towner and Mayor Stewart (whom Towner had invited out for a few minutes of door-knocking to see the reaction for himself) of sensationalizing and misrepresenting the issue, but at the same time they could point to no factual error she had made.
Zarrillo and Wilson also alleged that the publicity had tainted the trial-period process--a startling assertion which led me to conclude that they believed the trial period would have been a more authentic one if only people were not aware that the trial was occurring in the first place. It also led me to quip that they were essentially saying that the trial had been "tainted by the truth." Bizarre!
Anyway, after Councillor Zarrillo said during our Committee meeting on Monday that the trial should be abandoned because of the alleged tainting, I quickly moved just such a motion. I originally had trouble getting a seconder to the motion (Councillor Asmundson was absent on personal business and the mayor can't move or second motions), but ultimately I found one, and the motion passed unanimously.
To provide some for-the-record context (and, yes, a little bit of "I told you so"), what follows below are 1) a rough transcript of relevant portions (mainly, my comments) of the late-July meeting which produced the original decision; 2) a rough transcript of my comments on Monday. (My thanks go out to the self-described nerd who provided these transcripts to me!)
July 28 meeting of Council
|Coquitlam Concrete owner Jim Allard. |
Councillor Wilson: [Moved] That Council direct the Engineer to issue a general temporary truck route
exemptions for a trial period ending Sept 30, renewable on a monthly basis at
no cost, as follows: Mariner Way between Barnet and Como Lake; And
Como Lake Ave. between Mariner Way and Clarke Rd.
by Councillor Sekora]
So the first trial period would be two months from now to Sept 30, and
renewable after that, but it could be revoked at any time if there are problems
I seconded the motion, but I’d hoped that we went beyond Sept 30, but I’d hoped
that it would be at least three months, maybe even a six-month trial. We’re
too restrictive with two months... [Comments from other councillors and GM
I’m going to oppose this, not vote in favour of it. I just still feel
that I’m not in any position to judge all the technical things that come into consideration
in making these decisions. I’m not persuaded that it’s an undue hardship
for trucks to go a longer route and follow the existing truck routes.
primarily I’m just not comfortable wading into something where I don’t know
have all the information. I certainly don’t know what the people along
Mariner and Como Lake are going to think of this, and I don’t want to wait to
respond to the avalanche of criticism about a parade of trucks grinding up
Mariner there, and all of a sudden we have to react and there’s the headline,
you know, Council does quick retreat from late-night motion to allow truck
route. [NB: my predictive powers proved to be perfect!]
heard that the existing truck routes were based on well-considered criteria
dealing with all sort of technical things. I’ve got to believe that. I
haven’t seen those reports, but I have to believe there’s been significant time
put into that.
GM Engineering decides in his wisdom with access to all that information that
an exemption is warranted, then that’s fine. But he has that technical
expertise and background, and I’d prefer to be in a position to let him use
that. That’s what the bylaw has done, given him more discretion.
And in a
way we’re saying if this motion passes is that, well, we don’t actually trust
our GM of Engineering to make the right decision, so we’re going to make that
decision for him. And I don’t want to be in that position either.
[More discussion follows. Council votes 6-3 in favour of the truck route, with Mayor Stewart and Councillors Asmundson and O'Neill opposed.]
September 15 meeting of Council in Committee
Councillor O'Neill: It’s
really regrettable that this has become so emotional.
know, in the first part of my journalistic career, I was quite content to sit back
and record notes.
“He said this, she said that”, put it in the newspaper and let the readers make
up their minds based on what people said.
got cynical about the news then, because the news started to be about who said
the most outrageous thing, whoever acted the most outlandishly, whoever made
the most outlandish charge. So a
reporter that doesn’t try to get through this, to find out what’s really going
on, is really not doing the job...
get to the nub of the issues, you really have to start saying, Well, does that
make sense, is that right, is that wrong? Is that
factual, is that not factual?
number one thing that all of this debate hinges on is the allegation that there
was a deliberate or some sort of attempt to stir this thing up and make
political gains on it, but I have not seen a shred of evidence to support that
and as a matter of fact, one of the people who was so offended and shocked by
what’s going on said that, The pamphlet in question circulated was completely
accurate but was misleading, (that’s a
paraphrase), without specifying which ways it was misleading.
been often said around this table that the process, this trial period has been
that pamphlet is entirely accurate ... then we’re in a position where the process has been tainted
by the truth! Now how
can that be? How can something be tainted by the truth.
is truthful and accurate about what Council did on the last meeting in July, on
a 6-3 vote--allowed this truck exemption to happen on a temporary basis--and if
that’s truthful, then how could the truth taint? This is
what I just really don’t understand
disappointed that people think that a process, a trial period in which nobody
knows anything about what’s going on or that the public doesn’t know about a
trial, would somehow be [the better one].
think that if anything were to taint a process, it would be the “cone of
silence” that was over the procedure, that was over the trial. That would
have tainted it. Shouldn’t people have the right to know what’s going
on? Citing from my journalism background again, I’d say Yes.
the matter of setting the record straight here. From the time I’ve been
on Council I’ve been very uncomfortable about moving forward with stuff when I
don’t have all the information, don’t have staff reports.
the very first things that I got really upset about was something that happened
when we were trying to rush through something without, I thought, due
consideration. And that was my point for not going along with this trial
period, because I certainly I understood the logic behind the trial period, I
understood what people were saying, and I understood Mr. Allard’s point of view
as well. [Business owner Jim Allard was pushing for widespread exemptions.] But I didn’t
want to make a decision when we weren’t getting . . . when the engineer
involved was not saying yes, this is something that’s valid, it won’t cause
traffic disruptions in a new sector, it won’t damage the roads, it won’t be a
safety problem and all that sort of stuff. It wasn’t just [the safety issue I was concerned about, as has been said in committee earlier].
something that the Mayor and Councillor Asmundson may have talked about, I
haven’t looked up the record, I’m not going to speak for them. But I
certainly know what my feeling was; my feeling was just, I’m just not
comfortable going there. I know, we’ve got a lot of big hills in this
community, and we’ve had truck routes that were set out in the past, I wasn’t
persuaded that it was crucial enough for Council to preemptively, without the
proper background, to make a decision to, even for a trial period, to override
those existing routes, in an area as contentious as Mariner.
was just a matter of process. It wasn’t a matter trying to say that this
would be leading to death and destruction or anything like that.
resent – this is a personal comment – I resent the suggestion that it’s somehow
my responsibility to talk my Council colleagues out of a decision that they
made simply because they have been receiving a lot of negative blowback on it.
sitting here saying I’m on the side of the angels on this one. Thank
goodness I voted the way I voted. It was no certain thing. I’m
seeing all these emails and letters coming in and I’m saying These guys have to
make their bed and they’ve got to lie in it.
thinking if they see the need to change this, please go ahead and change
it. I didn’t think any of you would change your mind, but it sounded like
you wanted to end it, I din’t think you wanted to change it because you didn’t
make a motion. But I go the impression that you were were ready to
change, so I said Ok, good, and I made a motion, and no seconder. And I don’t
really get that.
fact that there’s so much angst about this. We didn’t start this fire,
folks. I didn’t start it. The Mayor didn’t start it, Councillor
Asmundson didn’t start this fire. If the fire was started, the fuel was
put there by Council’s decision. Maybe somebody lit a match to that fuel,
but we didn’t put that fuel there, we didn’t start this fire folks...
was a quote from Macbeth: “The lady
doth protest too much, methinks.”
what does that mean? Well it’s something about human nature.
it with somebody who’s maybe trying to explain away a decision. And
they’re protesting. No this, no this, no that, no that.
have to do is admit that, "You know, maybe I shouldn’t have made that
decision. I guess I shouldn’t have made that decision in the first place
or taken that action in the first place," instead of accusing this and having
that innuendo that and insulting language there.
still think you made the good decision, stick to it! That’s fine.
happy with the decision to begin with, it was more a process thing for me, and
I’m still in that position right now.
you I had a conversation with Mr. Allard, after this happened, to let him now
that I voted against what I thought he really really wanted, because I didn’t
want him to find out second-hand. I told
him I voted against it. He said “I don’t blame you. I would have waited
until after the big forum at the end of the month with truckers.” I said
“Oh, good.” I don’t like being shouted at by Mr. Allard any more than
anybody else does. But you know, we all have to live with our decisions,
and I thought I’d face up to mine with Mr. Allard, I’ve known him ... seen
him in the community a lot.
all of a sudden saying “I don’t blame you Terry.”...
make the right decision or not? If you made the right decision, stick to
it by all means.
face of this massive public outcry, stick to it if you think the right
decision, and if you think you’ve made the wrong decisions, second my motion
and let’s end this right now. That’s the way I see it.
(interrupting the last two sentences): What
massive outcry? What are you talking about? Massive outcry. You’re
drinking your own bathwater! Massive outcry. Massive outcry, big deal.
[Soon after, my motion was seconded, and council eventually voted unanimously to end the truck-route trial immediately.]