The four members of the AbbotsfordFirst slate recused themselves en masse Monday from a development project proposed by Quantum Properties.
Speaking for the AbbotsfordFirst members, Coun. Ross Siemens cited an “apprehension of bias” among members in withdrawing from discussions on a proposal to divide a single Sandy Hill property into five lots.
AbbotsfordFirst’s president Markus Delves is the brother of the applicant and an employee of Quantum Properties.
An apprehension of bias means that a reasonable person could perceive that a decision would be biased.
In March, AbbotsfordFirst member Coun. Sandy Blue said the slate would consider how to deal with a Quantum application if one were to arise, but that none were foreseen at the time.
Quantum is a prominent builder in Abbotsford and is the developer of the Mahogany at Mill Lake highrise. That project was approved in 2011, before any AbbotsfordFirst members served on council. Delves became president of the municipal party last October.
The Sandy Hill project was originally on the agenda for council’s April 23 meeting but was deferred. Without the AbbotsfordFirst members, and with Coun. Les Barkman absent for that meeting, council would have lacked the required five-person quorum to make a decision. The deferral of the proposal was made to ensure the city would have a quorum.
AbbotsfordFirst hasn’t yet stated how many candidates it intends to run in this fall’s election, and none of the four incumbents have yet announced their intentions. But if all four run again, and with Dave Sidhu having declared his intention to run for the slate, it’s possible AbbotsfordFirst could have five members come November.
In such an event, in order to have a quorum, the city could ask a judge to decide whether AbbotsfordFirst members who had declared an apprehension of bias were or were not actually biased. The city has gone that route before in another matter, with a judge having ruled that six councillors who declared an apprehension of bias could weigh in on a matter.
As for the Sandy Hill development, the five remaining councillors voted to move the matter to a public hearing.
The proposal would see a single panhandle property located at 35133 Christina Place and backing onto Cedar Springs Trail divided into five parcels.