Tuesday, 31 January 2012

PavCo admits to not owning BC Place giant screen! – points to Telus as culprit

In response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by citizen’s group ‘Take the Giant Screen Down Now’, BC PavCo has reluctantly but officially admitted that the giant video screen at Terry Fox Plaza does not belong to PavCo at all, but rather to a third party.

In a letter sent January 24, 2012 by PavCo administrator Alexandra Wagner, the PavCo CEO’s assistant confirms that “With respect to <revenues earned from advertising on all three giant outdoor screens> there are no records in reference to your request”, which confirms what has been suspected for months now: that a third party is collecting those advertising revenues instead.

Effectively narrowing down the screen owner’s identity to either PavCo or Telus Corporation, Wagner writes in her follow-up letter sent January 30, 2012 that “Ownership of the Screen at Terry Fox Plaza is part of the ongoing negotiations between PavCo and its preferred Telecommunications partner”, suggesting that the future ownership share of the screen between these two parties is currently under deliberation. Wagner does go on to admit however that “at present PavCo has no records related to the <screen ownership> portion of your request”, which finally confirms conclusively that PavCo is not the current owner of the screen, suggesting de facto that Telus must be. 

This admission further bolsters widespread beliefs that Telus Corporation is in fact the owner of all three giant outdoor screens at BC Place Stadium, a development first announced by MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert after being told so by PavCo Deputy Minister Dana Hayden in December of 2011.

As noted in previous blogs, non-Crown-agency third-party ownership and operation of the giant outdoor video screens at BC Place is illegal under a 2000-2003 BC Court of Appeals judgement concerning the BC Interpretation Act. It now remains to be seen how swiftly Vancouver’s City Council and Legal Department will use the courts to force Telus and PavCo to comply with the City’s Sign By-laws and ultimately whip PavCo’s leadership into behaving as they should have in the first place.

(Please scroll through the following document to view the full FOI correspondence with BC PavCo)

BC PavCo FOI correspondence

BC PavCo attempts to stave off Freedom of Information request: illegally withholds third-party documentation

The following two letters of complaint were sent January 29 and 31, 2012 to BC PavCo’s Freedom of Information Coordinator Alexandra Wagner (who is notably also the direct executive assistant and corporate secretary to PavCo CEO Warren Buckley). The letters which address PavCo’s incomplete FOI response describe on-going attempts by the PavCo leadership to continue withholding the screen owner’s identity as well as documentation describing PavCo’s complicity in the screen’s continued operation - this despite Freedom of Information laws requiring that PavCo disclose all related documentation. 

Observers can rest assured that those leadership and non-leadership members of the BC PavCo administration who are deliberately allowing justice to be obstructed through wilful non-disclosure of the screen owner’s identity will legally and financially be held accountable under laws such as the province’s Tort and Nuisance laws, just to name a few.  The hole is growing deeper – time to come clean.

(Please click on the following two images to view the two complaint letters sent to PavCo regarding their incomplete FOI response.)

Letter of Complaint #1

Letter of complaint #2

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Residents rally against invasive light from digital signs outside BC Place

This article in the Globe and Mail tells how the three giant video screens at BC Place have sparked hundreds of emails and letters since last fall from downtown residents who properly assert that light from the flashing, beer-advertising sign has invaded their living rooms by day and their sleep by night.  The story goes on to explain that BC PavCo’s recent tinkering with the screens demonstrates that they’re not at all listening to residents’ concerns.  Concerned and directly affected citizens alike have been rallying for four months for the standard application of due process and have demanded that BC PavCo be made to comply with the city’s sign by-laws, laws which were precisely designed and have been successful at achieving the proper balance regarding appropriate signage throughout so-called ‘entertainment districts’ in the Vancouver downtown core.  Finally, the story reminds readers that CBC (recalling that CBC is a Federal government entity, a level of government superior to the Provincial government), when seeking to erect a screen at CBC Plaza at 700 Hamilton Street in 2008, followed the standard billboard permit application process as do all Crown corporations when looking to implement projects which are generally described and governed by Vancouver’s city by-laws. 

– Feeling the pressure mounting, PavCo CEO Warren Buckley has chosen to run and hide and has left BC Place assistant general manager Kathy Delisser all alone to make outlandish statements, such as trying to shrug-off responsibility by saying that BC Place isn’t free to do exactly what it wants with the sign due to ongoing sponsorship negotiations. …It’s becoming increasingly obvious to even the least interested onlooker that PavCo’s actions regarding the three screens at BC Place Stadium are marred with irregularities and that the erecting of the three screens is a complete deviation from any and all accepted procedures considered appropriate by all levels of civic and provincial government.

(Please click the following link for full story in the Globe and Mail)

Vancouver requires “clear action plan” on digital signs compliance at BC Place

In this story appearing in the Georgia Straight, Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs describes the unanimous motion passed by Vancouver City Council concerning the giant digital billboards at BC Place Stadium and describes how the City is requesting that PavCo follow standard protocols which are typically followed by Crown Corporations, “This motion asks PavCo to do what Crown corporations have said in the past they would do...that they would adhere to city policies and procedures when it came to issues that would normally be under our jurisdiction”.

Meggs’ motion, which was passed unanimously by City Council, asks Vancouver’s city manager to write to PavCo, advising them that the City requires a clear action plan to bring the signs into compliance “with city standards and processes”.  City Manager Penny Ballem adds that “there’s a larger question here as we go forward... about PavCo’s relationship to the city.” 

– It seems that PavCo CEO Warren Buckley’s appalling lack of community values and shameful actions are not only trouncing on local city residents’ right to a peaceful home environment, but now Buckley is also putting into jeopardy BC PavCo’s long-term relationship with the City of Vancouver.  …Not exactly qualities you’d want from the head of one of our provincial organisations, nor someone you’d want empowered to make such big decisions about the shape and character of our City.

(Please click the following link for full Georgia Straight News story)

City Hall insists that PavCo comply with Sign By-laws

“There’s no reason why a small group of revenue-hungry elitist executives in a dark room somewhere can decide what type of harassment that they’re going to impose on our community,” says residents group Take the Giant Screen Down Now primary spokesperson David Cookson about the BC PavCo leadership.  – Vancouver City Council agrees.

In this follow-up story by Erica Bulman, we learn how Vancouver City Council has demanded a clear action plan from PavCo on how it will bring into compliance the giant digital screens at BC Place which are beaming ads directly into the adjacent condos.  In the story, City Council clearly warns that failure to respect municipal bylaws would create “difficulties down the road” for PavCo.  City Councillor Geoff Meggs then insists that PavCo needs to “…do what is right by the public, not just what is right by PavCo.”

Councillor Meggs goes on to explain about agreements made between PavCo and the City prior to the stadium renovations, “They promised when they applied for rezoning in the first place they would come forward to the city the way anybody else would under the circumstances.”  Crown corporations traditionally respect municipal bylaws, but PavCo erected the screens without city approval.  

(Please click the following link for full 24 Hours News story)

UNANIMOUS! - City backs residents in billboard battle

In this follow-up story by Matt Kieltyka, we learn how Vancouver City Council is standing up for residents complaining about the electronic billboards at B.C. Place, unanimously voting in favour of a game plan which councillors hope will pressure BC PavCo into complying with the city’s sign bylaw.  PavCo’s reprehensible behaviour has harshly been criticised by several members of City Council, with Councillor Meggs saying “(Residents) are asking for some reasonable accommodations from PavCo and they should get it.”  

The motion effectively puts the PavCo leadership on notice that they must comply with City processes and sign bylaws and demands an action plan from PavCo for full compliance.  City manager Penny Ballem also confirms that the City is looking into possible legal options if PavCo does not respond swiftly.

(Please click the following link for full Metro Vancouver News story)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

‘Blinded by the light’ – Take the Giant Screen Down Now group vows to protest until screen comes down

In this story by Metro reporter Matt Kieltyka, members of Take the Giant Screen Down Now (TtGSDN) and the community alike applaud Councillor Meggs for standing up for local residents quality of life and well-being.  City Councillor Meggs states that “On an overcast day, it’s quite disturbing having a light flashing in your living room”.  — 'Disturbing' is an understatement; community residents need rest when they’re at home, not bombardment with advertising all day every day.

Surprisingly, the MLA For Vancouver-False Creek Mary McNeil remains conspicuously quiet on the issue and has abandoned the Councillor to defend this community on his own, which is disappointing to say the least since this is McNeil’s constituency. TtGSDN primary spokesperson David Cookson confirms not hearing back from McNeil despite repeated requests for contact by phone and by email on many occasions. Is MLA McNeil toeing the partisan line and simply refusing to listen to her electorate in the hopes that this will go away?

(Please click the following link for full story) http://www.metronews.ca/vancouver/local/article/1070563--blinded-by-the-light

‘Signs of Trouble’ - If Telus owns screens at BC Place Stadium then City By-laws should apply – PavCo and Telus duck comments on ownership

In this follow-up story by CTV BC News, MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert confirms that PavCo Deputy Minister Dana Hayden admitted Telus Corporation’s ownership of the Terry Fox Plaza screen.  When contacting Telus to confirm ‘who owns the screens’, Telus is exposed by CTV reporter Shannon Paterson as inappropriately ducking the question and deferring to sponsorship issues. – Similarly for PavCo.  Interestingly, jurisprudence in the BC Appeals Court decision ‘District of Squamish v. Great Pacific Pumice’ indicates that City By-laws are applicable, therefore providing the City with the authority to remove third-party-owned screens from Provincial land if they do not comply with City By-laws.

If Telus proves to be the owner of the screens, PavCo CEO Warren Buckley and PavCo Minister Pat Bell will have a lot of explaining to do, beginning with why this vital information has been withheld from City Hall and from the general public for all these months. (CTV video link should appear just below this paragraph)

City Hall and residents questioning leadership at BC PavCo

In this story, CTV BC News reports that “Complaints keep on rolling in” about the giant screen at Terry Fox Plaza and how “There’s been a steady stream of complaints about the billboard for more than three months – Councillor Geoff Meggs has an inbox full of emails”.   Meggs goes on to describe how “People are being driven crazy by the lighting that’s hitting their buildings” and explains that “There hasn’t been enough of a <consultation> process as far as they’re concerned” and “a lot of them are demanding that the sign be taken right down”.  (CTV video link should appear just below this paragraph)

Friday, 13 January 2012

City Hall confirms “A lot of residents are demanding the sign be taken right down” – PavCo and Telus lock down all communications with press and public

The following CTV News story confirms the flood of complaints reaching City Hall over the last four months regarding the intolerable nuisance caused by the three giant video screens at BC Place Stadium.  Also covered in the story is the increasingly likely prospect of Telus Corporation actually owning and operating the three screens in secrecy.

Seeking desperately to flee from this public relations disaster, both PavCo CEO Warren Buckley and Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall have frantically resorted to the age-old damage mitigation tactic of stonewalling the press by refusing to comment on the Telus ownership issue.  Increasingly, it’s not just the ownership of the giant screens of that’s being put in question, but also the leadership of the BC Pavilion Corporation.  

(Please click on the following link for the full CTV BC News story)

Questions swirl around ownership of B.C. Place’s video boards

Investigative journalist Bob Mackin of the Vancouver Courier publishes an incredible admission from the PavCo Ministry stating that the three giant video screens at BC Place Stadium are privately owned by Telus Corporation and not at all owned by BC PavCo as CEO Warren Buckley has been intimating to City Hall and to Vancouver City residents!  

(Please click here for full Vancouver Courier story) http://www.vancourier.com/Questions+swirl+around+ownership+Place+video+boards/5987095/story.html

“Crown corporations usually consult with the City” says Councillor – Why not PavCo?

In this CKNW News story, Councillor Geoff Meggs correctly points out that PavCo and the BC Liberals have deliberately circumvented Vancouver City By-laws, this despite existing precedents for voluntary assessment of video screens set by the Federal government at CBC Studios 700 Hamilton Street in September 2008. In City documents made publicly available at http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20080930/documents/p1.pdf, the City Director of Planning writes, “CBC, (al)though a federal government crown corporation, has chosen to work with the City on their sign proposals and apply for the necessary by-law amendments and permits.”

Provincial and Federal agencies, as a matter of protocol and of respect for civic authority, always follow city by-laws voluntarily - Such has always been the case, as it has been completely unthinkable that the Crown would act in a way so obviously detrimental to the well-being of the local community. PavCo has the honourable distinction of showing us otherwise.

Billboards still hurt their eyes

A Vancouver City Councillor is trying to address the complaints he says are still coming in about the bright lights around BC Place.

It's been more than three months since people living near the newly renovated stadium started complaining that its billboards were keeping them up at night.

Geoff Meggs says that issue hasn't gone away and Pavco's efforts haven't been enough.

So, he plans to table a motion next week to ask the stadium operator to bring the signs up to standard, "Go back, use the best match you can work out for what should have happened in terms of public consultation and go through a process with people, because it's not working the way it is."

Meggs says the city was taken by surprise when the signs were installed without consultation, as he says Crown corporations usually do.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

City Hall turns up the heat to protect local residents – PavCo to be told to deliver a sign bylaw compliance plan

Liveable communities champion and City Councillor Geoff Meggs has tabled a sharply worded motion for discussion at the upcoming City Hall Council chamber session on January 17th.  In the motion document posted on the City website (see ‘Motions on Notice’ at  http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120117/regu20120117ag.htm), Meggs outlines the various discussion items to be addressed regarding the BC Place Stadium Digital Signs, items which could not be less embarrassing and exposing for BC PavCo CEO Warren Buckley and his team.  Among the shameful items to be reviewed is the categoric rebuttal of recent PavCo propaganda suggesting that fiddling with operating hours and/or brightness has reduced the daily torment felt by residents whose glass-enclosed living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms are facing the giant illuminated screens.  Also on the list-of-shame is the continued exposure of PavCo Minister Pat Bell’s non-collaboration with Mayor Robertson’s team, a subject on which Bell mislead the BC Legislative Assembly on November 17th, 2011. 

As City Hall shines an even brighter spotlight on PavCo’s demonstrated contempt regarding the hundreds of complaints continuing to flood City and Provincial officials’ inboxes, it has become clear to Vancouverites that the leadership of this Crown agency lacks the very basic respect and concern for community values that citizens expect and demand in this day and age.  This late and ugly discovery about PavCo’s lack of community concern becomes particularly alarming when one realises that this Crown agency wields such great influence over the shape and infrastructural character of our great city, a city whose world-class reputation has been painstakingly built on responsible principles of liveability, sustainability and harmony with our urban environment. 

Next Tuesday morning promises to be an exciting chamber meeting for citizens concerned with protecting Vancouver residents’ quality of life, and a miserably painful day for disconnected officials PavCo Minister Pat Bell and CEO Warren Buckley.

(Please click on the Motion Notice image here below to enlarge the text) 

Monday, 9 January 2012

PavCo Giant Billboard continues to operate in 2012 - No rest for neighbours

‘City Hall Watch’, a citizen review website addressing major City of Vancouver policies, chronicles the 2008 decision by the BC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeals to have a giant billboard at Main and Broadway removed as per the City of Vancouver’s wishes.  The story goes on to explain that “At the time, the City of Vancouver had assembled an entire legal team to fight the billboard in Mount Pleasant”, and that now, the author adds, “the city has experience and <has set> a precedent in fighting illegal billboards.”  - Will City Hall once again mount a determined charge against, this time a high intensity electronic billboard, and force the dismantling of the Terry Fox Plaza giant screen?  Indications coming from City Hall are very promising… stay tuned for developments.  

(Please click on the following link for story)  http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/pavco-giant-billboard-continues-to-operate-in-2012-no-rest-for-neighbours/