Monday, August 8, 2016

Graham Avenue land sale gains a bit of out of town attention

The recent decision to sell a parcel
of land on Graham Ave to a developer
continues to stoke conversation
Prince Rupert City Council may have issued their final decision when it comes to the sale of land at the end of Graham Avenue, but it would appear that the topic remains a popular item for discussion.

As we outlined on the blog at the time of the July 25th council session, many of the residents in attendance at the meeting had expressed a range of concerns over the city's plan to sell the land to the development company the Bryton Group.

Their interest in the topic, making for the latest contribution to the discussion on the controversial issue in recent months and setting the stage for a marathon City Council session in late July, with some councillors expressing their frustration with the way that some of the residents had addressed the issue.

When the July 25th review of the land question had come to an end, Council voted to sell the land in question to the Bryton Group, adding a number of covenants to the sale, including time lines for development and the need for the developer to include seniors housing as part of the larger development of the area.

Development plans slated for the Graham Avenue area
have made for much discussion of a parcel of land on the west side

And while Council offered up their final thoughts on the issue, the community it seems isn't quite finished with the conversation, the issue still of some interest in the coffee shops and beverage houses of the city, with some feedback also arriving from distances far beyond the municipal boundary.

Tom Ireland, the former Corporate Administrator and City Planner with the City of Prince Rupert who relocated to the Island,  seemingly still keeps up to date on items from his former home town. And this week he offered up some observations related to a recent story in the weekly newspaper on the theme of the Graham Avenue land sale.

Mr. Ireland who was employed by the City from 1981 until 2006 was a key part of the City Hall team during those years, holding extensive knowledge of how successive City Council's had approached development in the community and what vision those Council's may have had through the years, particularly when it came to questions of development that the city was focused on.

His contribution to the current discussion provides some interesting background as to the original reason the city had held onto the land for as long as it had.

In his observations offered through the comments section of the original story, Mr. Ireland notes that the land was never intended to be turned into a park, but to facilitate access to the waterfront one day, with the former City Planner observing that one concept that had been considered at the time was to install stairs from the area to the west side waterfront area.

Mr. Ireland also offers up a personal thought or two related to the land sale, noting that he considers the city's residents to be "the big losers in this farce of a sale".

As well, he outlined some alternative options that the City could have considered on the issues of housing that also made for part of the land sale question of late July.

"The developers density could have been increased many ways without this ... the zoning density could have been amended, or there could be density bonusing for additional amenities, or some affordable units."

Retired and former Corporate Administrator and City Planner 
Tom Ireland  used his Facebook account to offer
 some background to a recent weekly  newspaper item

The comments from the former city planner highlight to a fashion the shift that has taken place at City Hall in recent years, where the bulk of the city's upper staff management for the most part are new to their positions, many of them having relocated to the city from other communities.

In addition to the change in the staffing dynamic at City Hall, the majority of the current City council is also new to their tasks, with only Councillors Thorkelson and Kinney perhaps able to look back to some of the past work of officials such as Mr. Ireland when it comes to ongoing issues of development in the city.

With many of those long time employees now retired and in some cases having moved away from the community, that shift in the make up city staff at City Hall (and to a lesser degree the new era underway at Council) would appear to indicate that much of the institutional memory of the community is no longer available as a reference.

Something that may have been of much assistance in the recent considerations related to the Graham avenue land issues.

You can review more background on the city's housing issues from our archive page here.

For more items related to Discussion topics at City Council see our Council archive page here.

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