Thursday, January 27, 2022

City Council makes use of changed Provincial rules to move forward zoning application

Council moved zoning for a property on 11th Avenue forward
on Monday, addressing a clerical error from their first
effort of two weeks ago


A clerical error in the original Zoning document from January 10th,  brought a previously approved property development back to Prince Rupert City Council on Monday, with City Council members making use of a change to provincial legislation to help speed up the approval process in order to see some rental properties become available.

As the topic involved a property owned by Councillor Wade Niesh, the Councillor recused himself from the proceedings.  

City Manager, Rob Buchan opened the discussion with a few notes on the topic,  observing that the item was back up for consideration owing to an error in the description of the Bylaw draft which did not specify the proper zoning.

He noted that nothing related to the proposed development had changed from the last time it had been introduced earlier this month, with the plan still set for three units of housing on the property.  

Mr. Buchan also noted of new legislation in place that allows for properties that fit into the Official Community Plan do not have to make use of a public hearing.

That legislation was streamlined in October of 2021, and the Monday night Zoning Bylaw issue offered the Councillors their first chance to take it out for a test drive. 

The new legislation features three areas of note for municipalities looking to improve the timelines from consideration to final approval.

The proposed changes will remove the default requirement for local governments to hold public hearings for zoning bylaw amendments that are consistent with the official community plan. 

The amendments will also enable municipalities and regional districts to delegate decisions on minor development variance permits to local government staff, which will help decrease the amount of time it takes for approval. 

Together, these proposed changes will provide the authority for local governments to improve their processes and help get homes built faster throughout the province.

In the case of the subject property, the opportunity to move forward without need of another public hearing was highlighted by City Council members, who are looking forward to seeing the structure take shape.

The path ahead for the housing proposal is that of a First and Second Reading of the new bylaw, with a letter then to be sent to area residents advising that a Public hearing would not be taking place.

Mayor Brain noted that the situation was that of a clerical error and the recommendation is appropriate, as council has found no major issues relayed during the previous review.

Councillor Adey made note of one concern that had been brought forward over parking at the proposed development, Mr. Buchan observed that there is the required number of parking  stalls in place for the proposed development and that no variance will be required.

Councillor Mirau followed up on the opportunity to make use of the new provincial legislation that will save time in moving forward housing in the community.

"I just wanted to make the point following up on Mr. Buchan there, that this is our first opportunity to obviously  take advantage of the province's recent legislative changes. And to my reading you know not only is it supposed accelerate proposals that are already consistent with the Official Community Plan, but their main motivation to me was to speed up development approvals for more housing supply. Which is obviously relevant in this particular case where we can save weeks and you know in other cities s months of processing time.

Mr. Mirau also noted how developments such as the one under consideration meets Council's goals for housing.

"The significant modernization to our Official Community Plan that multiple years of public engagement, its very clear that additional housing density is a shared goal in this community so that we can build more housing supply across the entire spectrum"

Councillor Cunningham noted how they were ready to pass a housing proposal that will actually happen, noting how some previous approvals have yet to see any housing developed.

"Well it's nice to see where we're passing something like this that we know it's going to happen. We've passed a lot of other things and they've cleared land or done things like this, but it hasn't alleviated any of the housing problem. Here were going to have three units probably within the next year or year and a half"

Councillor Randhawa was also in favour of moving forward with the process to create more housing.

Council then provided their First and Second Readings of the revised Bylaw

You can review the full discussion on the zoning issue from the City's Video Archive starting at the sixteen minute mark.

More notes on Monday's Council Session can be explored here.

A wider overview of past Council Discussion themes is available here, while items of interest on housing in Prince Rupert can be reviewed here.

1 comment:

  1. Councillor Cunningham says "we know it's going to happen", unlike other housing developments that the council has approved. If the process is arms length and the same for everyone, how does he know that?