Achieving for Delta mayoral candidate George Harvie reads a statement hitting back at his opponents and defending his actions as Delta city manager on Sept. 27, 2018. (James Smith photo)

Delta mayoral candidate Harvie hits back against ‘personal attack’

Former city manager points to public record to debunk opponents’ ‘baseless’ claims against him

Achieving for Delta mayoral candidate George Harvie has fired back at his opponents over what he called baseless and shameful attacks on his character and record of public service.

Over the past several weeks, incumbent councillors running with two opposing slates — Sylvia Bishop’s Team Delta and Jim Cessford’s Independents Working for You — have asserted Harvie acted without council’s authority when attending a meeting in March 2013 with Metro Vancouver representatives regarding the regional authority’s issuing of an air quality permit for the Enviro-Smart Organics composting facility in East Ladner.

READ MORE: Delta composting facility the centre of election controversy

At a press conference held outside Delta city hall on Thursday morning (Sept. 27), Harvie laid out evidence supporting his claim that he attended the meeting with the full knowledge and blessing of council and that he at no time pushed for Metro Vancouver to “just grant Enviro-Smart everything.”

(A full transcript of Harvie’s press conference with links to the documents and videos he references is available at the end of this story.)

“Let me be clear off the top that the complete lack of action on the part of Metro Vancouver in stopping the odours emitting from the Enviro-Smart Organics site is absolutely unacceptable. Equally unacceptable is playing nasty politics with a real issue that has gravely affected the quality of life for East Ladner residents far too long,” Harvie said.

“I take great exception to rival mayor and council candidates Sylvia Bishop, Robert Campbell, Jim Cessford, Bruce McDonald and Jeannie Kanakos continuing a baseless and shameful attack on my character and record of public service for the citizens of Delta. My opponents working together have now sunk to an all-time low, moving instead from the issues of the day that affect the community of Delta to a personal attack on my character, dignity and leadership. I will not take this assault any longer.”

RELATED: Bishop to craft ethical conduct bylaw if elected Delta mayor

Harvie cited over 37 documents, including staff reports and council minutes, as well as video of four council meetings, all of which are available through the City of Delta’s website. He said they show clearly that council — including Bishop, Campbell, McDonald and Kanakos — was not only aware of his work on the Enviro-Smart file, but directed his actions in regards to opposing Metro Vancouver’s odour control bylaw as it applies to agricultural facilities.

“It is inexcusable, unbelievable and disingenuous to Delta staff or council members to say they did not know what staff was doing on this file. Council members are very familiar with this business. Individually, they have discussed this matter numerous times with the company’s owner and have attended a number of tours of the facility with Enviro-Smart management,” Harvie said.

“The over 37 reports illustrate Delta council was fully briefed and completely involved in ensuring Delta’s concerns were met. And all reports were approved unanimously. At the time, I never received any questions from council regarding my involvement on this file.”

Harvie also read from a letter written by agrologist Brian French, a land resource consultant who was at the March 2013 meeting, as proof he did not lobby for the Enviro-Smart project to be approved.

“I believe you were present at the meeting at the request of Delta council to advocate for the agricultural and other industrial interests in Delta. You spoke strongly against any GVRD attempt to regulate odours from agricultural operations in Delta. You did not, in my recollection, speak specifically regarding the Enviro-Smart operation,” French wrote.

“I believe you advocated at the meeting for the agricultural and industrial businesses in Delta effectively and within the bounds of your municipal responsibilities.”

Harvie went on to say that allegations he delayed Metro Vancouver issuing an air emissions permit for the site were “categorically false,” urging people to watch videos of the Oct. 2, 2017 and Nov. 6, 2017 regular council meetings.

“Both Delta staff and Metro Vancouver’s director responsible for air emission permits are recorded in the video stating the following in response to a question from council: ‘The delay in working on an air emissions permit for Enviro-Smart Organics was due to a lack of complaints and Metro staff resources being assigned to Harvest Power odour problem in Richmond,’” he said.

Harvie closed by outlining how, if elected in October, he will work with Green For Life (the facility’s current owner) and East Ladner residents to find a solution that works for all and take steps to implement it quickly, before taking one final swipe at his political opponents.

“Myself and my Achieving for Delta team believe in putting Delta residents first, not politics. We plan to continue an upbeat and positive campaign demonstrating trust, integrity, leadership and ethics,” he said. “Other candidates should take note.”

SEE ALSO: 43 candidates running in Delta civic election

Here is the full transcript of Harvie’s press conference, including links to the videos and documents he references:

“Thank you for joining me today and for this opportunity to refute the unfounded claims levelled against me in recent comments made to the media by my colleagues.

“Let me be clear off the top that the complete lack of action on the part of Metro Vancouver in stopping the odours emitting from the Enviro-Smart Organics site is absolutely unacceptable. Equally unacceptable is playing nasty politics with a real issue that has gravely affected the quality of life for East Ladner residents far too long. I take great exception to rival mayor and council candidates Sylvia Bishop, Robert Campbell, Jim Cessford, Bruce McDonald and Jeannie Kanakos continuing a baseless and shameful attack on my character and record of public service for the citizens of Delta. My opponents working together have now sunk to an all-time low, moving instead from the issues of the day that affect the community of Delta to a personal attack on my character, dignity and leadership. I will not take this assault any longer.

“The facts: On Aug. 27, 2018, I provided evidence to mayor and council obtained through the City of Delta’s online record of minutes, videos of council meetings dated Jan. 28, 2013; Dec. 9, 2013; Oct. 2, 2017 and Nov 6, 2017. This information refutes Delta council members stating that I acted without their direction, advocated for the benefit of Enviro-Smart Organics, that I opposed any public consultation and delayed Metro Vancouver issuing an air emissions permit for Enviro-Smart Organics’ operation.

“Proof: Repeating again, the public records of the Dec. 9, 2013 meeting of council, it records their approval of Metro Vancouver’s public consultation regarding Enviro-Smart Organics’ operations. Public consultation was done on this matter; allegation false. Council knows that Metro Vancouver is solely responsible for issuing Enviro-Smart Organics’ operating permits, conducting public consultation for tonnage processed and air emission control. Metro Vancouver’s manager environmental, regulatory and enforcement services is appointed through the provincial government to regulate air quality in Metro Vancouver. This position is independent, autonomous of any influence from members of council and Delta staff.

“The City of Delta’s website contains over 37 reports and minutes regarding Enviro-Smart Organics. It is inexcusable, unbelievable and disingenuous to Delta staff or council members to say they did not know what staff was doing on this file. Council members are very familiar with this business. Individually they have discussed this matter numerous times with the company’s owner and have attended a number of tours of the facility with Enviro-Smart management. The over 37 reports illustrate Delta council was fully briefed and completely involved in ensuring Delta’s concerns were met. And all reports were approved unanimously. At the time, I never received any questions from council regarding my involvement on this file.

“The allegation from Metro Vancouver staff that during a March 2013 informal meeting at the Enviro-Smart facility where they stated I appeared to say just grant Enviro-Smart everything is absolutely false. I have a letter to read from Mr. Brian French, professional agrologist, who was in attendance at the informal meeting. The letter states as follows:

Fishing

“It was very obvious at this informal meeting that Metro staff were upset over my vocal criticism and Jan. 30, 2013 letter to Metro Vancouver’s chief administrative officer.

Fishing

Fishing

This letter follows direction from council to strongly oppose Metro Vancouver’s proposed odour regulation. The direction is detailed in the Jan. 28, 2013 council meeting video where I’m directed by Counc. Bruce McDonald to go, ‘go well armed,’ in my opposition on behalf of council.

(Editor’s note: Discussion begins at 1:52:46, McDonald quote is at 2:03:09)

“The allegation that I delayed Metro Vancouver issuing an air emissions permit for Enviro-Smart Organics is also categorically false. I would ask everyone to watch videos of the Oct. 2, 2017 and Nov. 6, 2017 council meetings. Both Delta staff and Metro Vancouver’s director responsible for air emission permits are recorded in the video stating the following in response to a question from council:

“‘The delay in working on an air emissions permit for Enviro-Smart Organics was due to a lack of complaints and Metro staff resources being assigned to Harvest Power odour problem in Richmond.’

“Conclusion: The facts as outlined and contained in the City of Delta’s official public record and the Brian French Sept. 26, 2018 letter are proof that the allegations by rival candidates in the current election are false and unfounded. Here we are, almost one year later from the November 2017 council meeting and Metro has still not concluded this file. In their actions over these past few weeks, the main mayor and council candidates have demonstrated dishonest, vindictive behaviour, and quite frankly with this evidence in hand, their credibility must be called into question. Their involvement on this issue can no longer be conveniently minimized. Sylvia Bishop, Jim Cessford, Robert Campbell, Jeannie Kanakos and Bruce McDonald are clearly using the East Ladner community for the sole purpose of discrediting me to gain political advantage in our current election. Delta voters deserve better.

“I am the only candidate for mayor that wants to work on a solution. My award-winning record of achievement for Delta is well-known and recognized. As mayor, I will move immediately to have Delta staff work with the new owners, Green For Life, and implement a solution that will give back the East Ladner residential community the right to enjoy their community without offensive odours. This operation requires enclosure and air emissions control now. Once Delta staff are satisfied that the enclosure will eliminate any discharge of odours from the Green for Life operation, I will hold a public consultation meeting with the East Ladner residential community. This will ensure that homeowner are confident in an agreement with the Green For Life proposal. Then, I will request council to support the issuance of a building permit. We cannot wait for Metro Vancouver and risk losing the company’s proposed investment of $25 million to enclose their operations and implement air emission controls. As mayor, I am prepared to go to Metro Vancouver board with Green for Life representatives and the East Ladner residents and request an expedited air emissions permit that is based on emissions at the operation’s property line.

“Myself and my Achieving for Delta team believe in putting Delta residents first, not politics. We plan to continue an upbeat and positive campaign demonstrating trust, integrity, leadership and ethics. Other candidates should take note.”



editor@northdeltareporter.com

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