COMMENT: In response to Andrew Bennett’s Nov 12th Item

Bill Micklethwaite
By Bill Micklethwaite
November 14th, 2011

I think most Rosslanders agree that provisions for higher density housing forms to lower costs are a good idea.  These thoughts are crystallized in the 2008 Official Community Plan in section 18.2.  However, the OCP also recognizes the risks of radically changing neighbourhoods.  The following section of the OCP at 18.3.4 reads as follows:


“18.3 Residential Policies:

4. Ensure all new multi-family residential developments, including duplexes, are designated as a Development Permit Area to ensure new multi-family developments are compatible with the scale, character and heritage of existing residential neighbourhoods. 

As it stands, the current R1-I zone now permits exactly these multifamily developments and their consequences without any further community input, let alone a development permit, thus should not pass as it now stands if the changes are being made in the name of bringing the Zoning Bylaw into consonance with the OCP!

Why partially align with the OCP? The OCP is meant to form ‘the rock’ of future planning on which people can base their investments into homes in our community.  If you only meet its vision selectively then radically change it from time-to-time you leave people and their commitments in doubt.  Doubtful people won’t invest their life savings in homes here, even if they are cheaper.

I was a Rossland Councillor for 8 years and the City’s planner for five of those so I have seen Zoning Bylaws in action.  Zoning is the master control of what gets built where.  Once in place and acted-upon, a project is virtually unchangeable as the City would face serious legal consequences.

Contrary to Andrew’s assertion, Rosslanders’ ability to give effective input on single-to-multiple housing will be shut down.  Today a full rezoning hearing is a required part of a RS1 to RS2 (duplex) change. Yes, you can talk to Council but when has this resulted in a change in their plans lately? Regardless, once a zoning is in place and a builder acts within its rules, only the Building Inspector has any control and then only over compliance to codes and zoning, not esthetics. If Council denies a building permit meeting the rules they can (and have been elsewhere) sued for losses.

Mr. Bennett offers K2’s recent duplex as a good example of a duplex. I agree, it’s an excellent example built by a committed local builder, but this could also have been a minimal, ugly box thrown up by a fly-by-nighter which could equally happen were R1-I in place today and with no-one having the right to object until it’s too late. People who live in Rossland value views, space and sunshine –automatic approval means any consideration of these will vanish. As an alternative to the rezoning ‘red tape’ required now, adopt the Development Permit process the OCP contemplates –at least exposing a proposed project to review by staff.

Andrew asserts that “most people agree” with the new bylaw (and its R1-I zone). I beg to differ –most people in our busy society are completely unaware of the changes that will so affect them or have no idea how to make their feelings properly known. Busy people miss small announcements in the corner of newspapers giving notice of explanatory meetings or hearings.

No, dissent is not approval in these cases. For approval you need a plebiscite–a costly process but the only truly democratic one for a community game-changer such as this proposal. Andrew’s later assertion that “most of us agree” [with the R1-I zone] is highly presumptive of knowledge of the minds of 3500 people!

Let’s talk about off-street parking.  He’s right that single family and duplex dwellings do/will require 2/unit.  The change comes in the permission to allow several other forms of multi-family occupancy at 1 parking place per unit added. Coupled with small lots, increased building & parcel coverage, the multi-vehicle modern family and Rossland’s snow gives a recipe for people parking on-street, particularly in winter. This raises snow removal costs and/or blocks roads.

Putting a new, untried, zone in place which radically alters the form and character of parts of the community is dangerous.  May I suggest one of four better ways to implement these changes in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary way:

  1. Create the R1-I zone’s detailed prescription and make it available for any builder to apply for by rezoning. Do not designate any specific lots to which this will apply immediately.
  2. Create the R1-I zone’s prescription but apply it now only to a few, well-chosen larger lots thought suitable for this new land use (Emcon lot and Cooke Ave school block?).
  3. Create the R1-I zone’s prescription but place a requirement for a Development Permit on its application.
  4. Create some options and let the community decide between them by plebiscite.

Categories: GeneralOp/Ed

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