A note on the Windsor Hotel court case

I’ve had a few people post comments about a current court case in New Westminster on unrelated posts on this blog. The City of New West is involved in a case currently before the Supreme Court of B.C. relating to the former owner of the Windsor Hotel’s unsuccessful attempts to relocate a liquor store to 12th St. a few years ago, and the commenters I mention would like us to write about it. (Note: I haven’t approved the comments, as they are off-topic, and also because I am concerned about the legal implications of some of the statements they made. )

It’s pretty unusual for us to “cover” hard news like that of a court case. We just don’t have the resources to do it justice, so we leave it to the professional journalists and those amateurs who are passionate enough about the subject to invest the time required.

The Newsleader’s Mike McQuillan is following the case, and I imagine someone from the Record will be too.

If you’re interested in a dab of speculation while following the play-by-play of the court case, I suggest you check out the blog of VOICE New Westminster, a political slate opposed to much of the current council’s policies.

Just an FYI for other readers who wish we would write about a particular issue, if you’ve got a story tip for us, please email me directly at info [at] tenthtothefraser.ca rather than leaving an off-topic comment on another post. We do read all the email we get, and we write up story tips as time allows.

If you really want to make sure your issue is written about here, the best way is to offer to write a guest post (under your real name please). Please contribute an original piece or clearly state where else the work has appeared or submitted (i.e. republished from another blog, or also sent as letters to the editor to the local papers).

If anyone wants to comment here on the Windsor case, you may, but please pay close attention to how you write it. Considered criticism is fine, but I can’t approve comments about current court proceedings that imply guilt (we are all innocent until proven guilty, right?), or that are an excuse for name-calling. I will reply privately to anyone whose comments I don’t approve so that you know why. If you use a fake email, that obviously can’t apply.

11 Replies to “A note on the Windsor Hotel court case”

  1. Hi Neil: Absolutely, I think it could be a very important issue to follow. I just know I don't have the time to do it justice. It's good that Voice is putting in the effort. This is exactly why it's great to have a local ecosystem of media. One blog (or newspaper) just can't do it all!

  2. Hi Briana,
    “The Express”, Voice New Westminster’s blog, has been following this issue a bit and has had people commenting a fair bit. Not all of the comments have been deemed suitable to post. It seems this issue still resonates with people.

  3. Exactly, Bree. One blog, or newspaper definitely can't do it all. Our coverage of the case continues.

  4. Monday, July 12, 2010
    Who was in charge? Who is telling the truth?!
    It was interesting sitting in courtroom 101 last week listening to some of the testimony from our Mayor, the City Administrator, the Director of Legislative Services, the former Director of Planning and Development, and the present senior planner. The process was tedious as the lawyers built their cases brick by brick.

    Former Director of Planning and Development, Tim Whitehead was anything but kind to his former employers or his former staff, but he did admit on the stand that he (and by inference the City) was responsible for some of this debacle in the first place. Then we had Rick Page, Director of Legislative Services, and the Mayor, Wayne Wright, denying any responsibility, and pointing the finger at each other for this mess. Following the Mayor and Rick Page, we listened to the master of the dodge and weave, City Administrator Paul Dominato, deferring all responsibility to others as he decreed he was either not involved or had no input.

    As I listened to the testimony unfold I was struck by one thought – no one in New Westminster is in charge. The City operates in spite of those at the top. At the end of the trial, the judge in this case will have to decide who is telling the truth. But even if the City wins the case, the citizens of New Westminster have still lost.

    Blair Armitage

    Close this window Jump to comment form
    R.N. said…
    Thanks for the overview of this case.
    Several thoughts on this. Where in the heck is the main stream media?
    Both papers had some isolated reporting on this, but nothing with any depth of thought. I guess the MSM is not different from the rest of the city, nobody seems to care.
    Second, your comment that nobody is in charge, the appearance of this is a result of deliberate attempts to pass the blame elsewhere. Where else but in New West could you see a Mayor and the Administrator both blame others for the whole sorry mess. Now that’s leadership.
    This whole debacle was orchestrated from the Mayor’s office, and done through his lapdog, the Director of Development services.
    It is interesting that two years ago, it was Mr. Armitage who as a delegate in chambers told the council of the day of the extreme dysfunction in the development services department. Several planners had left, and they sure were talking after they landed in their new jobs. Shortly thereafter the Director of Development Services tendered his resignation, and as the facts came out later, he was $150G richer for it.
    The madness continues with the Pier Park price tag and lack of due diligence,but then it did serve it’s intended purpose, it gave the Mayor an election announcement.
    With all of the contradictory evidence given under oath, the Judges ruling on this one will be very interesting.
    Thanks again for taking time out to present an overview, much needed given the sorry state of the MSM.
    July 12, 2010 8:15 PM
    G. Henderson said…
    You are wrong in your title of the department you call Planning and Development Services.
    It is called the Department of Development Services. There is no Planning. Literally or figuratively.
    The only planning that is done is by the developers, and that is, to whose campaign are they going to contribute?
    July 12, 2010 8:24 PM
    Brianna said…
    Very interesting comments indeed indeed! If the city is found guity in this trial and the public once again has to foot the bill, can crimminal charges be brought against those responsible. Why was the city’s former lawyer not called to the stand?
    July 12, 2010 10:05 PM
    Lisa said…
    So we pay the city manager 200 grand a year and he denies any involvement or input? Why are we paying him for? Mr. Daminato and Mayor Wright should both have a very good look in the mirror, I don’t like what I am seeing!
    July 12, 2010 10:23 PM
    To Brianna said…
    The former lawyer for the City would have been in a client/solicitor relationship with the city. This would preclude him from testifying.
    It would not be very wise for any city to do business with him if he would end up on the witness stand after being the solicitor for that city.
    Given that he was summarily dismissed by the city, he would probably have loved to be able to testify. This probably would not sit too well with his spouse, who is the Director of Development Services in New Westminster.
    July 12, 2010 11:03 PM
    Brianna said…
    To To Brianna, thanks for the response. My husband and I have a friend at city hall, I am going to ask him what he thinks of all this. Some not quite right here and this needs to be investigated further.

  5. Lisa: Please don’t repost from the Voice blog in the comments here. You are welcome to share a link and an excerpt, but not the whole text. I won’t be approving any more comments that are just copy & pasted from other blogs.

    I see that a “Brianna” is posting on the Voice blog. I hope that’s the person’s real name, and not someone impersonating me (misspelling my name to boot). I notice that impersonating others in comment threads seems to be a common Voice tactic. I’ve seen comments from “Jamie”, “Wayne” and now “Brianna” that are clearly not from Jaimie McEvoy, Wayne Wright or me. Neil & Lisa: I wish you’d suggest to the people who manage the Voice blog to crack down on the practice. It is tacky and could potentially get you into trouble if something a pretender wrote actually harmed someone else’s reputation.

  6. I’m glad someone’s gauging the temperature on this case. I must admit, it’s surprising it’s not bigger news. Then again, from what I’ve heard, not many people were thrilled with the operator of the liquor store that was slated for 12th Street. Not that this absolves the responsibility of the City in this action. All before my time friends. Guess I’ll wait to see what the verdict is and how it’s rendered.

    I’m with Briana on the pretenders though, leave that to chat rooms. Not only do you discredit your argument for or against what you blog about but it also appears as though you’re trying to discredit individuals who may have nothing to do with what you discuss. As someone recently advised, smile and wave and you need not worry you’re offending someone you might know or who you might wish to befriend. Pluck up some courage and put a name to your post or post anonymously but don’t be a pretender.

    Find another outlet for your frustration. I hear yoga works wonders! Ohmmmmmm.

  7. Briana:

    I read your comment above and realize that your blog, as well as ours, is unfortunately suffering from people who may not be who they say they are making comments. We are as concerned about it as you are.

    I know too that there have been a number of comments made to the Voice blog that have been rejected by their moderators due to their content.

    Re: your comment that it is a "common Voice tactic". Rest assured that this is not a "common" Voice tactic and in fact it is not a Voice tactic at all. Hopefully we can work together on common issues and concerns.

  8. Hi Neil, I am relieved to hear that you are trying to keep on top of this kind of nasty stuff. I apologize for assuming you weren't addressing the issue. I think I let my pique at seeing what looked like yet another case of assumed identity on your blog colour my comment, but you're right, you're hardly the only site to deal with this sort of thing. I know the local papers have the same issues with their commenters, and of course we have too.

    I agree that we can and should work together on common issues and concerns!

  9. Nothing like politics during the dog days of summer. Why the city got involved in what was a commercial transaction was and is still beyond me. Throughout the process when it was happening Tim Whitehead didn't seem interested at all at what the residents and businesses from upper 12th Street had to say in opposition to the proposal to move the Windsor Hotel's liquor license to uptown 12th street. He (and I suppose by extension the city staff and council) were only interested in the Inter Urban development going ahead and facilitating that move by intervening and interfering in the process of the negotiations between Walia and the proposed developers of the InterUrban site.

    Whitehead's arguments at the open council meeting held at Century House that summer, in answer to the residents and business concerns were hollow and bordered on high handed arrogance. But there's another perspective on this entire meeting I have as well. When it comes to Voice's councillors (Voice didn't exist at this time btw, but as events unfolded, these 2 are now known to be Voice's councillors) both spoke first at the meeting (after council met in the hallway to decide how the vote was going to go) and sat opposed to it. Its easy to oppose something when its going through on a staff recommendation with a majority vote.

    Nonetheless, the overall optics on the entire situation, including the way in which through readings Walia came to lose his originally approved move, smells to high heaven. And this comes from someone who actually supports the "progressives" on council and the Mayor. They were elected because they said that they would listen and consult with the citizens in the communities. And inspite that the vast majority, actually an overwhelming majority were against opening a liquor store at 8th and 12th Street, the majority voted in favour of it. Later on, through what could have been described as fortuous luck or procedural sober second look, but also could be described as a legislative "fix it now" directive issued to the planner at the time (Whitehead), Council got to fix a wrong and move on. But that fix came, in my opinion at a price. That price was Whitehead's head. (Not necessarily a bad thing, when compared to Ms. Spitale who's far and above a better city planner than Mr. Whitehead who seemed to think he was Monte Hall, just like the planner before him Ms. Pynenburg)

    A further price is the fact that this is all now before the courts and the taxpayers of New Westminster are on the hook for the actions of Mr. Whitehead, staff and council, should they be found liable. And a third price was a display that, despite all the talk and campaigning, that Council will not always do what the citizens and concerned entities want or is in their best interests. This was no better exhibited than despite huge loud protests and objections, Council forced the developers of Victoria Hill to keep up the facade of the building on the old Woodlands site, calling it heritage, rather than calling it a tragic eyesore.

    I don't believe for one single minute that had council been full of people seeing eye to eye with Betty and Bob that the result would have been any different. So, sorry Neil, inspite of the fact that in this instance Voice still isn't the way to go. And as long as Casey and Steve are around in there, they never will be.

  10. What an inaccurate account of the Public Hearing process as written by D. L. Council did NOT meet in the hallway to decide a vote. Never, never, never. I take the Public Hearing process very seriously as I enter with an open mind and vote with an independant vote. Very disturbing to suggest any other way of doing business. Also I seriously listen to Public input, D. L. needs to talk to the rest of City Council about Victoria Hill. On record is my motion to support staff recommendation in the Committee of Whole meeting. Defeated by the majority of City Council he supports.

  11. What we're missing is proper coverage by our media.

    First, the Record is in bed with the city and sleeping with the mayor.

    Second, the leader is also desperate for business, and knowing canwest's (now Postmedia's) problems is chomping at the bit for some city business should the record fold.

    We have no good local newspaper because the paper media is dying and needs every drop of money they can get !

    As for the case, it reeks, but really is anyone surprised by our 'citizen of the year' turned mayor or 'strong in tradition- committed to service' city employees turn lecturers ?

    The city is RIFE with mismanagement and waste but all our papers can print are soft stories with colour photo's of baby kissing.


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