The last act of council: Zoning bylaw crowns three years of work towards Strategic Sustainability Plan and Official Community Plan goals

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
November 30th, 2011

The last act of council on Monday evening was to adopt the long-debated zoning bylaw, now approved by the Ministry of Transportation. The bylaw passed without debate, but discussion focused on two amendments—one to the Official Community Plan (OCP), and one to the new zoning bylaw—to address a recent complaint raised by a group of landowners with properties on the south and west slopes of Red Mountain.

Coun. Andy Stradling also raised the R1-infill issue with a suggestion for the next council to keep them involved in development decisions.

Amendment from P4 to P5 for some Red Mountain properties

Bylaw 2520 amends the OCP so that “Resource Management Areas” can “consider limited, small scale residential development or recreational cabins as appropriate.”

Bylaw 2521 amends the new zoning bylaw (2518) to include a new P5 zone that includes “one family detached dwelling” and “accessory buildings” in the list of permitted uses. The seventeen parcels on the back of Red Mountain are all redefined as P5.

Both amendments were passed through first and second readings, and the date for a public hearing was set for Dec. 19 when the new council will debate third reading.

The history of this strategy—rather than rescinding the zoning bylaw and redefining “P4″—is explained in a previous article.

Coun. Kathy Moore expressed sympathy with the concerns of the residents and saw the amendments to be “a form of grandfathering” that allowed the residents their original right to build a single family home on their properties.

Nevertheless, Moore was “uncomfortable with changing the OCP” to accommodate these parcels on the back side of Red, concerned that “it doesn’t conform with the notion to reduce sprawl and demands on infrastructure.”

Coun. Laurie Charlton raised the point that none of the parcels in the new P5 zone have “legal access.” He said that “for any of them to do any development, they would have to subdivide and survey in a road to provide road access to the lots. He added that the old Red Mountain Wagon Road on the east side of Jumbo Creek is not a legal road.

City planner Mike Maturo confirmed that this was the case, allowing that there would be “quite a bit of legal registration and survey work to ensure appropriate grades, given the topography and steep and hazardous slopes.”

“There are many challenges before they would be able to make a rational argument, financially, to plunk anything down,” Maturo said, noting that this issue had been made very clear with the “owners’ representative”—presumably realtor Zane Buvette—over the last two months.

The mayor summarized the amendment: “First, they want their initial ability to have a residence on the property. This amendment  gives that back,” while he acknowledged “substantial hurdles to developing anything on the property.”

R1-infill zone receives scrutiny

Coun. Stradling also raised the concerns of three citizens who, at the public hearing two weeks ago, had taken issue with parking issues and “form and character” in the new R1-infill zone.

“Certainly more than three citizens were represented by the voices at that hearing,” Stradling said. “I’m happy the zoning bylaw is going to help increase densification of downtown core, reduce development costs, and hopefully see affordable houses near the city centre, but I also want to echo some concerns.”

Parking was one concern. Stradling was keen to see “moves made this winter to address parking concerns with permits, where houses will get stickers for their limit of cars and those without stickers get towed.

He was referring specifically to a single block (Georgia, north of Columbia) where a permitting system was instituted last year due to ploughing difficulties. Public works can now call the tow trucks for non-permitted cars on this short stretch.

“That should go some way to addressing winter parking in the town,” Stradling said, and he expressed hope that the incoming council would pursue more “parking permit types of approaches.”

Secondly, Stradling recommended that the next council pay close attention to the Development Permit requirements, including a “form and character” design review, before duplexes and multi-family homes can be built in the R1-infill zone.

“It might be wise for the incoming council to consider some modification of the Delegation of Authority bylaw to allow council to discuss development permits for infill,” he said. “It’s just a little check and balance. I don’t want the whole public hearing and rezoning stuff, but I do think our citizens deserve to be represented by council as projects go through the DP.”


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