Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

The construction site of the Jubilee House, a social housing project in Vancouver, B.C., on January 27, 2015.

Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

Lower Mainland developers are welcoming a decision by the City of Vancouver to appeal a recent court ruling that made it unclear exactly how much information cities have to give the public about land deals and rezonings.

"There's a danger in the way the judge worded his decision – it may suggest that everything should be open book," said Brian McCauley, president of the development company Concert Properties and former chair of the region's Urban Development Institute. "And we would be very concerned about that."

Mr. McCauley said developers routinely negotiate land purchases and density in private with city councils – negotiations that would fall apart if every conversation had to be made public.

Story continues below advertisement

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan ruled on Jan. 27 that Vancouver's planning department did not provide enough information to the public last year when it held hearings about two proposed buildings that involved the city and a private developer swapping land. The city had also agreed to allow the developer extra height and density in exchange for new social housing units.

The court case was started by a group of residents calling themselves the Community Association of New Yaletown. They objected to the height of the tower for which Brenhill Developments received approval, and to the overall deal between the city and Brenhill, which they said gave the developer too much.

Justice McEwan's decision has caused concern and uncertainty among developers throughout the region, especially because Brenhill was forced to stop construction on a project.

Vancouver city manager Penny Ballem said that is partly why the city has decided to appeal the ruling.

City lawyers put in a notice of intention to appeal last week, but have not filed arguments yet. The city is also going to redo the hearings and permit processes for the two buildings.

Ms. Ballem said two main areas of concern led to the decision to appeal.

One such area is about how much confidential information the city must release about land deals in a public hearing.

Story continues below advertisement

The residents and their lawyer had obtained, through a freedom-of-information request, a copy of an informal agreement between Brenhill and the city over how much density the developer would need for its tower to cover the cost of building a new social housing project. Although the public later heard through media reports and at the hearings what all the financial terms were, the residents' group complained that those terms had already been worked out by that point.

But Justice McEwan did not mention that agreement in his ruling.

"He didn't say whether it should be included [in a public hearing] or it shouldn't be," Ms. Ballem said.

The second problem for the city, she said, is that the judge ruled material for the public should be easy to understand and not overly technical.

That direction is also unclear, Ms. Ballem said.

"In fairness to the judge, it's not an area he has spent a lot of time in," she said, noting that the city is obliged to lay out some technical issues whenever it does a rezoning. That can include listing all the policy documents that apply to the decision, along with a lot of information about the specifics of the proposal.

Story continues below advertisement

The Yaletown residents have said it is shocking the city would appeal a ruling that requires a better public process.

"If the ruling against the city were overturned, it would have severe and negative consequences on public participation across the entire city," the organization said in a news release.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies