Open Letter Regarding Omissions at March 24th Plains Road Meeting.

On March 24th city staff held a meeting to discuss possible zoning changes to a large section of Plains Road. The area discussed was on the South side of Plains Road positioned East of Water Down Road. Later residents discovered a developer is already advertising to sell 75 condo units at 40-58 Plains Road East in violation of current zoning regulations.

Though it was casually mentioned the city had been “approached” by a developer; no indication was given that a specific plan was in motion. This leaves the distinct impression that this meeting was in bad faith. It seems like the purpose of the meeting was only to say the public was “consulted” on an issue staff already had a plan to change. At minimum the staff could have indicated that if the zoning was changed they would expect to see condo buildings in the “range of 70 plus units”. Why they did not could be anything from simple lack of communication to an outright attempt to defraud the public.

I think traditionally the public has considered staff as neutral parties implementing zoning regulations and changes in a balanced way. To some it seems like staff have now been co-opted into provincial employees with “intensification” as the decisive factor in decision making. If staff failed to mention this development or the like because some one judged that residents would have a negative reaction; then they are no longer operating in a neutral way. This is unfair not only to residents and developers, but also to the staff themselves.

Some basic questions now need answering:
1) What exactly is the current function and purpose of staff in regard to planning and development?
2) Was the city made aware of this 75 unit proposal from the developer?
3) Was there any conversation among or direction to staff about hiding the nature of probable developments if the zoning was changed?
4) Did any staff indicate that they would work for the developer to get the zoning changed or that they probably could get it changed on behalf of the developer?

1) All communication between staff and this developer on this matter needs to be made public.
2) Staff are “trading” zoning violations for attributes to the building. “Horse trading” zoning violations needs to be made into a transparent public process.

In this area we have less trees, less businesses and more congestion. I reject outright the suggestion that the liveability of our community needs to be sacrificed for the provincial “intensification” mandate. Intensification is designed to spur positive changes in our community; not serve as a rationalization for negative ones.

Greg Woodruff
Citizens for Responsible Development