Thursday, July 23, 2015

Councillor Thorkelson outlines concerns related to Downtown condo proposal

Discussion on a proposed downtown
condo project parked a larger
conversation on land use at
Prince Rupert Council Monday
The proposed development of a residential condo project on Bill Murray Drive seems to have been the lightning rod for Councillor Joy Thorkelson, with the long time city councillor using the evening's motion related to a zoning amendment related to height, to unload some of her growing frustrations with land use in the community.

The discussion of the Zoning amendment started out fairly routine, with the City Planner making note of the range  of options ahead for Council  and the process that would follow the first reading of the amendment.

The actual theme of increasing the allowed height of downtown buildings however quickly expanded to a much larger conversation as Councillor Thorkelson began to list off a number of concerns she has with the way the city is approaching zoning in the city and expanding her position to include the entire focus of land use in the city.

Calling the process a chance "to leave a legacy from this time of expansion", she asked council if they wanted to "have all the wealthy people located downtown" and wondered what the city and council plans to do with subsidized housing and whether the city could be setting the stage to end up with ghettos around the community, moving the poor out of the downtown core.

She also noted that the proposed development at Bill Murray Drive would be designed for those with above average incomes and that City may wish to put some form of requirement in place that directs that the second building proposed for the site have some form of affordable housing in place upon completion.
Councillor Thorkelson had a number of
issues to raise on land use at Monday
evening's Council session

She observed that some of her comments might reinforce for some in the community the concept that she is anti development, an impression she says would be wrong, rather she noted she is big on planned development.

"So, I'm just saying, I can just see it, and I don't really care to tell you the truth,  that people are going to say that Thorkelson is anti- development. I am absolutely not anti-development, absolutely not.  But  I am big on planned development , I have been fighting for four years on this council to get some kind of land development plan for our own land, that we own as a city which isn't very much land, but also what do we need to control is development so our city looks like we want our city to look like"  -- Councillor Joy Thorkelson speaking on  land development issues at Council on Monday evening

She also advised Council that she wasn't planning to vote in favour of any amendment that will move development ahead until the city has a public discussion with the community as to what they want to see when it comes to land development in the city.

Comments that found some applause among those that had spoken in the Committee of the Whole session related to a land zoning issue for Borden Street, those residents had gathered in the public gallery to follow the evenings regular session.

Councillor Cunningham also offered up his support for Councillor Thorkelson's comments but observed that attempts in the pas to seek out consultation from the city's residents didn't provide for much participation or direction from those that live in the city.

When it came to the vote, Council members voted to adopt the First reading of the amendment, with Councillor Thorkelson as promised voting against the motion.

The zoning amendment now moves towards a public information meeting and will allow for staff to develop more analysis of the issues.

The discussion on the proposed development for the downtown area can be found on the City's Video Archive, running from the 1 hour mark to the one hour twenty minute point.

For more background on Monday's discussion see our timeline feature here.

Items related to Housing issues in the northwest can be reviewed from our Housing Archive page.

While more background on City Council discussions can be found on our Council Archive page.

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