I attended the snit-fest organized by Victoria councillors Ben Isitt and Shellie Gudgeon, presumably to gather public viewpoint, and wondered what of substance they might have taken away from the exercise regarding the disposition of city-owned lands.
I heard comments exclusively to one side of the issue from a number of the roughly 50 people who attended.
Generally, these followed one of three themes: Ian Maxwell, owner of Point Hope Shipyard and Ralmax, wants to own the property so eventually he can build condos (righteous applause); Victoria has housing and other problems affecting its most needy, so everything the city does should address and benefit that agenda (righteous applause); and no public land should be sold because we need, or will need, more parks (righteous applause).
If anyone in the audience actually knew anything about public lands – their sale, disposition, value, strategic long-term use – they stayed mute.
If anyone knew anything about soil contamination on the parcels in question and whether, in fact, the City as vendor might be liable for soil cleanup (or, at least, obliged to factor the costs into land pricing), they stayed mute.
If anyone remembered that City policies champion – with overwhelming public support – the idea of a working harbour, as exemplified by Point Hope Shipyard, they stayed mute.
An exercise in grandstanding and venting like this benefits the city and its councillors how, exactly?