by Dave Preston
A pared-down Peachland council met with a developer and the owner of land in the downtown area Tuesday behind closed doors. Because the meeting is scheduled as in-camera, the subject matter is not published, however it is likely it has something to do with downtown development. Or not.
Five members of the currently six-member council attended an open Committee of the Whole meeting this morning. Mayor Keith Fielding was out of town and Acting Mayor Peter Schierbeck chaired the meeting.
Moments after the committee meeting was adjourned, Schierbeck let slip that council is meeting at 1 o’clock with Brian Anderson and Steve Allison at an in-camera meeting.
Anderson is the developer behind The Gateway — the mixed use, condo and commercial space building on the corner of Beach Avenue and 13th Street that houses Bliss Bakery. He is also behind Oasis — a smilar project to The Gateway on the corner of Lake Avenue and 13th Street that has been approved by council but on hold for some time.
Allison is the owner of the TNI group of companies. From its Peachland office on First Street, TNI operates a number of fundraising campaigns for charities across Canada and elsewhere. In recent years, Allison and/or his company has purchased a significant number of properties in downtown Peachland, including:
* A house on First Street (former location of Lovelock’s hairstyling);
* Two commercial buildings on First Street (the TNI office and the old doctor’s office beside it);
* Three houses on Third Street (beside the dental office);
* A building on Beach Avenue (former Chinese Laundry, now Aegean Grill);
* A commercial building on Third Street (former laundromat location).
Municipal councils can hold meetings in-camera for a number of reasons, including if the subject matter involves negotiations about municipally-owned land. The municipality has signficant land holdings in the downtown area, including:
* The Chamber of Commerce location on Beach Avenue;
* The municipal office and firehall on Third Street;
* The ambulance station location on Third Street;
* The parking lot on Second Street behind the Edgewater Hotel.
The district also owns all of the land between Fifth and Sixth Streets and between Hwy. 97 and Beach Avenue. That area has been designated for as the future home of a seniors’ housing complex.
Several years ago, council chose Renasence Developments to try and acquire the necessary land in the downtown area to launch a new, major development. The downtown redevelopment plans fell through when Renasence was unable to acquire the land necessary.
Peachland News attempted to confirm what Tuesday’s in-camera meeting was about. Meeting agendas are typically posted ahead of time on bulletin boards at the community centre and municipal office, but no agenda for Tuesday’s in-camera meeting could be found in either location.
Polly Palmer, director of corporate services, said in an email to Peachland News that the town does not post agendas of in-camera meetings. The only place where information can be found is in minutes of previous council meetings.
Provincial law dictates that municipal councils must make a resolution to hold an in-camera meeting during an open council meeting. Council must notify the public at that time that a meeting will take place, when, where and for what reason. The reaon’s given are always general, such as land, labour or a legal issue.
A search of previous minutes led to a mention of Tuesday’s meeting in the June 22 regular council minutes:
“MOVED by Councillor Schierbeck, SECONDED by Councillor Moberg:
THAT an In Camera Meeting be held Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. pursuant to Sec. 90(1)(c) [labour] of the Community Charter.”
Peachland News then wanted to find out why a developer and the owner of a signficant amount of downtown Peachland were attending a meeting that is apparently dealing with a labour issue.
Palmer responded to the query with, “I am not permitted to confirm or deny the topics in the in-camera meetings.”
To sum up, council met with a known developer and a known owner of land in the downtown area. The posted reason is ‘labour’, but Peachland News was unable to confirm the meeting’s subject matter is labour.