"On August 24, 2012, Richardson International submitted an application to Port Metro Vancouver for a project permit (PP 2012-099) to increase its grain storage capacity at its terminal in North Vancouver. This proposed project will add 70,000 metric tonnes of grain storage capacity to the existing terminal."
ON June 18, 2012, with its back against the wall of a supposedly immutable deadline, City of North Vancouver council approved a proposal that would see North Vancouver's Low Level Road raised to accommodate a site expansion on Port Metro Vancouver lands.
Less than two months later, the Queensbury/Cloverley neighbourhood was blindsided with the news that Richardson International had filed its own grain-storage expansion application with PMV which has jurisdiction over all ports-related activities in the region.
Nothing had been said about Richardson's intentions. It had never been mentioned during regular council meetings of the day, nor was it raised during the almost 17 months of public consultations that were held to discuss the PMV expansion.
It wasn't that long ago Cambie Street business-owners were complaining that the conditional approval the City of Vancouver gave to the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver rapid transit line was for a very different project than the one TransLink eventually built.
Is it conceivable that engineering plans detailed enough to support the Richardson project application could be pulled together in just 46 business days?
If not, was Richardson drafting its plans in isolation from the PMV team that, for more than a year, had been engaged in controversial and well-publicized negotiations with the city and port neighbours over its proposal to raise the Low Level Road?
The second of those questions is best answered from information contained in the Guide to Project Review which is provided on the port's own website.
In answer to the question, "How long does the Project Review Process Take?" PMV explains applications fall into one of two categories: The first and simpler type does not "require consultation with external parties or a building permit." Those can be "processed in six to eight weeks."
More complex applications - such as the Richardson proposal - do require consultations and permits and applicants are advised, ". . . permit issuance may take 3 to 6 months."
This is where the guide gets really interesting: At the bottom of page 14, prospective applicants are provided with a Project Review Flowchart which illustrates all of the steps that must be followed.
The very first hurdle for an applicant to clear is a "pre-application meeting" at which PMV "can advise on the anticipated duration of the review process. . . ."
The earliest date noted on the technical drawings that accompanied Richardson's submission to PMV was July 24 - barely 25 days after council's decision.
Since preparation of those drawings would have been moot had council not approved PMV's own expansion, this begs these questions: Who at PMV knew the grain storage expansion was in the works? When did they know it? Did anyone at either Richardson or PMV tell city hall prior to council being persuaded to approve the Low Level Road expansion, and if not, why not?
IF PMV and/or the company indeed made no reference to Richardson's plans to double its grain-handling capacity during those months of public and council discussions of the LLR project, did that omission prevent council from making "an informed decision" prior to its vote to approve?
If so, now what?
From the PMV online application information, it appears the adjacent property owners in the 500-and 600blocks of East First Street will be the most affected.
But according to North Shore News letter-writers Marlene and Charles Goodbrand, property values in those blocks could be adversely affected all the way up to East Fifth Street and beyond.
Their estimate, supported by local Realtors, is that a drop in property values of anywhere up to 30 or 40 per cent could be at stake. For approximately 100 residents, a total of $20 million might be on the line.
Property values aside, it is the effects on health and quality of life that are uppermost in the minds of longtime residents Michelle and Michael Binkley. They, along with their neighbours, know they are facing giving up the homes they have nurtured for decades.
The situation is particularly traumatic for Michael who, as an artist, has more than the usual sensitivity to the ambience and design of his surroundings. A sculptor, his work takes pride of place in the homes of many collectors throughout the North Shore and beyond.
That work will be difficult to do as PMV and Richardson undergo their expansion projects that will put a road under their floor-to-ceiling back windows and add "70,000 metric tonnes of grain storage capacity" in concrete silos beyond.
To be forced out of the home the Binkleys have enjoyed and beautified for so many years means a whole lot more for Michael than packing up the furniture; it means a total upheaval to his creative process and an unwelcome interruption in the works he has been commissioned to produce.
WANTED: HALLOWEEN LIGHTS
If you see a home or business that really howls Halloween, please send the address to firstname.lastname@example.org. The North Shore News will publish photographs of devilish decorations on Sunday, Oct. 28.