I don't know Sean Hodgins, but I'm sure he's a nice enough person. I do know he's a very good property developer, but I don't feel sorry for him over the Southlands saga.
Property developing, like mineral exploration, writing and several other enterprises, involves speculation or commercial risk-taking. If you're a developer, a mineral geologist or an author and you don't take risks, you'll never be successful.
Twenty years ago Hodgins' late father bought the land from the bank after a development attempt failed to gain the community's OK. Now, Hodgins feels he can continue the speculative process of changing the zoning and determining just how many homes Century can get away with on the property - that is, how much financial return he can get on his father's opportunistic purchase.
I can't fault him; I would do the same in his position.
Where the fault lies, however, is with Delta council. Since the historic 1989 public hearing, the Tsawwassen community has repeatedly said it doesn't want any development on this land - land that was originally in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The Spetifore family's 1971 proposal was for 3,524 homes - rejected. The controversial 1989 proposal was for 1,895 homes - rejected. Century should have known it's 2010 proposal for 1,900 homes would not fly - rejected.
Now, Hodgins feels Century's 950 homes on the site are appropriate. I think it will be rejected. This history should tell council that zero homes on the property is clearly the right number.
So why does council continue to accept ever-shrinking proposals from the Century Group in spite of the Ipsos-Reid poll saying the ratepayers don't want development? Why does it continue to divide the community on the issue?
It recently cut off debate on whether the Southlands should be returned to the ALR because it was a "divisive issue." What does it think Century's persistent development proposals are? Unifying? Does council realize there is a hidden cost to this persistent behaviour?
Every time a new development proposal is floated, council has to set out an "approval" process. An important part of this is community consultation (although not all councillors would agree), and time and again Tsawwassen's citizenry turns out in numbers to oppose the proposal on a number of unresolved issues.
But this process takes a toll on the individuals involved, in the form of anxiety, stress, time lost in researching the proposal and attending the hearings, even bitterness towards council and Century, whether valid or not. What part of "no!" does council not understand?
I appeal to council to put an end to this ongoing charade; to rescind its March decision to reinstate the Southlands in the ALR, so there can be no further development proposals.
And I wish Hodgins good fortunes with his other developments so Century can "increase the sum of human happiness in the South Delta community."