Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Concerns over Graham Avenue road extension dominate Park Avenue Public Hearing

Council's second go around with the topic of zoning issues related to a proposed housing development on Park Avenue provided for a Public Hearing on Monday evening, with a few contributors to the night offering up their thoughts on the plans to develop a stretch of land between Park Avenue and the current end of Graham Avenue.

As we outlined on the blog on Monday, the zoning issues had become a bit of a controversy in the Graham Avenue area, with a number of residents approaching council with their concerns previous to the Public Hearing by way of correspondence and petition.

Council opened the Public Hearing at 7 PM, with the Mayor calling on the City Manager Robert Long to clarify the scope of what was under consideration on the evening, then asked City Planner Zeno Krekic to revisit the main aspects of the zoning proposal.

From there the evening was turned over to the public in the gallery with three residents of the Graham Avenue area offering up their comments and concerns related to the proposed development.

Residents of the Graham Avenue
area offered comments at
Mondays Public Hearing
The main focus of those taking the time to comment involved concerns related to the proposed extension of Graham Avenue and the impact that it would have on the residents of the Graham Avenue area of the city.

And while they didn't appear to have any concerns over the actual housing development, issues related to the extension of Graham Avenue towards Park Avenue did seem to dominate much of their contribution to the evening.

They were particularly concerned to learn that any potential change to the road system in their neighbourhood would not provide for the requirement  of a public hearing aspect of decision making, something that they stressed was a major issue for those living in the area.

At the end of the Public hearing, the evening moved into a special regular session of Council to give approval to the zoning issues related to the development, with a number of Council members however acknowledging the concerns of the residents related to the road expansion.

Councillor Thorkelson observed that the City needs to provide more guidance in the future when it comes to these types of developments, noting that the process between the public meeting of earlier in the year and the public hearing of two weeks ago and again on Monday left many in the area concerned about the nature of the project and that it had changed from the earlier presentation.

She added her thought that the city should work to find a way to ensure some form of public engagement on the road issues for the Graham Avenue residents.

"I think that the issue for many appears to be the road and I think that we need to have a discussion, I"n not quite sure how ...  how that fits in with what happens with the city staff officer  who will be looking after the development of that area ... to see if there is room for a public meeting or hearing"-- Councillor Thorkelson speaking to the rezoning issues of Monday night on the Park Avenue development proposal

Ms. Thorkelson also reminded council that the Park Avenue Housing proposal was the first large scale housing proposal that City has had to address in recent years and that Council needs to ensure that in the future the public is aware of the process that is taking place and that the public is clear as to what is involved with it.

Councillor Cunningham also had a number of thoughts related to the discussion from the Public Hearing, noting that he had raised traffic issues in the area at council before and that City Council needs to address those concerns of the residents in the area.

As for the proposed Graham Avenue extension, he noted that the residents were not against the proposed housing development but did have some concerns about the nature of the road.  He was however quite enthusiastic about the idea of developing that road, highlighting how it would provide for a vital second access into the Graham Avenue area.

"The road is crucial to this whole development, it opens up that whole area to a secondary access which has very limited access right now ...  I think that this road would be a dream come true if we can get it in" -- Councillor Barry Cunningham on the nature of a proposed road extension in the Graham Avenue area.

Following the remaining contributions from members, Council then voted to move the zoning process forward and approved the motion on the evening.

You can review the full discussion on the Park Avenue Zoning issue from Monday from our City Council timeline feature.

As well, you can follow the commentary from the public hearing and council discussion following it from the City's Video Archive, it runs from the beginning of the night's proceedings and comes to an end at the 28 minute mark.

For more background on the Park Avenue proposal see our Housing Archives here.

More background on City Council discussions can be found on our City Council Discussion page.

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