The single most important aspect when talking about residential infill is that council is not listening to residents. I am pro responsible infill, not indiscriminate infill. Higher density infill close to LRT stations is responsibly done infill. Cutting down hundred year old trees in order to use a cookie cutter design is irresponsible and diminishes a neighbourhood's character. Designing a home that incorporates the 100 year old tree on the site is responsible infill.
Residents were told that there was intensive engagement before infill was approved, but I have not found this to be the case in my neighbourhood. When I hear feedback on this "engagement" the overwhelming response has been negative. When the Jasper Place ARP (Area Redevelopment Plan) community engagement was happening at our local community hall, those of us who were not thrilled with certain aspects of the presentation were shuffled off to corners and spoke to quietly, preventing others from hearing our objections. We were assured our voices were being heard.
In fact, our voices were not heard. Not only were our voices not heard during the “consultation”, the city seems to be attempting to shut out dissent by reducing the number of neighbouring houses that need to be notified of zoning changes.
If Elected I will Strive to Achieve:
Stop the infill initiative immediately. Increase the radius for rezoning notification to a minimum of 250 meters. Go back to the residents affected by infill and find out what their issues are. Builders and developers also need to be consulted to find out what problems they are having. Then develop a plan that addresses both groups. The next step is to develop a dispute mechanism that will (hopefully) allow all parties to come to an agreement. If an agreement is not possible then the final step is to make sure that concerns are heard in council.
In my neighbourhood an application for rezoning was made on an RF1 property to have it changed to an RF3. This type of zoning change allows for medium density housing (meaning townhouses) in a neighbourhood, regardless of if the residents feel townhouses would not be a good fit. We started a petition that was signed by 37 properties adjacent to the proposed site. Copies were sent to the person handling the planning file and to our councilor.
I was contacted by our councilor and suggested that the community hall be booked for an evening so that we could engage in meaningful discussion regarding this application. The meeting was determined to be in a few days. We had 54 residents attend this meeting on very short notice. Our councilor spent the majority of his time trying to explain, in what one resident stated was “convoluted jargon”, the ARP (Area Redevelopment Plan). The residents brought up many good points with the main point being that as a community we felt townhouses were not appropriate in that specific area. Residents said many times that a duplex (2 units) achieved the same goal and was an effective compromise instead of the proposed 3-unit complex. Most at the meeting felt our councillor was ignoring our concerns, evidenced by his continual referral back to the ARP. Our councillor did not even attempt to find any middle ground or suggest any kind of mediation. At the end of the evening residents felt that their voices were not heard and the community concerns were dismissed.
The rezoning application was to be heard on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at 1:30 PM. Unfortunately, only myself, my son, and one other resident was able to speak to council for this rezoning. Other residents could not attend because it was being held in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day and it would require them booking time off from work and/or finding and paying for childcare. Many felt that even if they were to attend, it was a waste of time since even their own councilor did not hear them.
These types of situations are frustrating and I think it is a councillor’s responsibility to bring these concerns forward, not just tell their citizens the myriad of ways they believe the citizens are wrong.
"I believe it is imperative that a councilor support the community when they have spoken, regardless of their personal views and agendas' . Councilors are elected to represent their residents, their neighbourhoods and their ward"