Responsible Development

Here is a presentation I made to City Council on June 25th at which time the Breithaupt Block 3 development project was being discussed:

After spending many hours last week sifting through the current zoning bylaw document and the proposed CROZBY document, the Official Plan as passed in 2014, the Urban Design Manual, RIENS and PARTS, to get a better idea of the discussion around the BB3 development project and where we, the citizens, fit into the process, I have come out with more questions than answers.

Rather than speak off topic by expressing my concerns about such things as the bonusing provisions, which I think should be eliminated, I want to say that what we are witnessing with the BB3 project, along with all the other matters being brought up here this evening, is an inadequate public involvement process (hence the large number of people lined-up to speak this evening, with the decision already having been deferred once). This is not to mention the series of documents that are not yet applicable which in turn provide loopholes to the developer at the expense (in this case) of an established neighbourhood.

Talk about the LRT began 14 years ago, in 2004, and was further solidified in 2009. The fact that planning documents are still in process gives developers the opportunity to abide by or bounce back and forth between the previous and current bylaws and guidelines. Unless the City is willing to insist that the new zoning bylaw (CRoZBy) and the new guidelines (RIENs, PARTs and the Urban Design Manual) be honoured, they should put a moratorium on the BB3 and all further development projects in the Core until the new documents have been made binding.

Furthermore, the 2017 Provincial document titled Places to Grow states that: “within the GGH (Greater Golden Horseshoe), this Plan provides that the applicable time horizon for land use planning is 2041” or 2031 for UGC projects (page 8) – so why is the City is such a hurry to approve the many projects in the pipelines – BB3, Sixo, Charlie West (24 Gaukel St), 471-475 King. St. E. etc without first completing the institutionalizing of the documents in question. It seems to me that we have the cart before the horse.

Somebody recently said to me that people don’t like change. This person was suggesting that because we don’t like change we contest the proposed development projects. My assessment is that people want respect, they want to be at the table participating in the decision making rather than shown bulletin boards of the plan. I’ve yet to hear anybody say they do not want development along the LRT route, but I have heard people say that they want responsible development and that they want to be taken seriously in the decision making process - even if it takes a bit more time.

Would it be unreasonable to ask that development slow down, that the finalization of the new land use planning regime be expedited - that is, be passed, approved and implemented now and not at the end of the year or some time next year, and that City Council ensure responsible development so that people don’t look back in 30 years and say “what were they thinking”? It is not about a fear of change. It’s about our collective responsibility to ensure that neighbourhoods are not negatively impacted, that concerned citizens are brought to the table with developers, planners and councillors as decisions are being made, and not just pacified through information sessions where people often feel that their comments go unnoticed, and finally that the vision of the city we have is reflected in the bylaws that we draft.