The chair of the city’s Infrastructure and Planning Committee said the Heritage Local Area Plan strikes the right balance between city goals and resident needs.
The committee heard from the public, and administration answered councillor questions, during Wednesday’s meeting before the document was approved 7-2. Couns. Andre Chabot and Dan McLean were opposed. It still must go through a public hearing at which time there would be a final vote at council.
A local area plan is a regional redevelopment plan that outlines where certain building forms and densities can happen.
Committee chair Coun. Sonya Sharp said that people and policy dictate the decisions that council makes. That was reflected in the final document, she said.
“I would say from where this started to where we’ve ended up at this point… I think that this was one of the best local area plans I’ve seen and I’ve been here a long time,” she said.
Past local area plans have been lengthy public hearings and hearty debates at council. Coun. Sharp said this shows that admin is getting better at delivering these plans, particularly around incorporating resident feedback.
“I think administration did a fantastic job listening,” Sharp said.
“Like I said before, there’ll be people that are always against any sort of change, but I think this was well thought out and they did a great job.”
Still, concerns were raised about a lack of engagement in this plan. Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean said he couldn’t support it because there wasn’t adequate consultation. He also said the cost to produce the plan could be better spent on other areas, like public safety.
Community members share thoughts on the plan
Guy Buchanan, a long-time resident of Kelvin Grove and former community association planning director was opposed to the plan because he said it ignored the feedback from the majority of the Chinook Park, Eagle Ridge and Kelvin Grove (CKE) communities.
He cited a survey done in the area that showed a majority wanted to preserve the single-family nature of the communities.
“This process can be summed up best as intentional drive-by consultation to advance an ideological plan that is not needed nor wanted by the majority of CKE residents,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan is also behind a drive to have homeowners resort to restrictive covenants to protect their single-family detached dwellings.
Terri Pozniak, a resident of the CKE communities for nearly 38 years, supported the plan, saying she looks forward to seeing the area grow and diversify. She said home prices in the area are a barrier for young families, and as a senior who may need to change housing styles, she’ll have to move away to find a more accessible location.
“I am disheartened to see this nimby-ish refusal to accept or even understand the virtues of the LAP,” Pozniak said.
“Not moving forward with the LAP could simply strangle and stagnate our community interfering with its ability to provide the activities and interaction which have given rise to many lifetime family friendships.”
The majority of speakers at Wednesday’s public hearing came out in favour of the Heritage LAP. Many represented community associations within the plan boundaries.
Built by the community: Coun. Penner
In the past, Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner had said the density in the plan didn’t go far enough. Much of her ward is covered in the Heritage LAP.
Still, after Wednesday’s meeting, Coun. Penner said she was “absolutely OK” with the plan.
“I’m OK with the plan because it’s been built by the community for our community,” she said.
Coun. Penner said the support shown at Wednesday’s meeting shows community members have listened to the challenges faced by the city in terms of growth, population and providing services in these communities.
“I think people have really taken that message to heart and really want to see plans succeed, they really want to see our city succeed, and voicing their support for that is important,” she said.
The fact the plan changed and evolved from its original form – reaffirmed by Coun. Sharp – is a good sign city admin is adapting its process, Coun. Penner said.
“They’ve been flexible, they’ve been adaptive, they’ve been innovative,” she said.
“I think, as a result, the community has been able to respond and to get the information that they need, which allows them to be confident in this plan.”