Department of Land Use Change Management?

Mayor Ruttan and Councillors:

In attending last night’s first open house concerning the new zoning bylaw, I was disappointed to find that several fundamental issues which I had previously raised remained un-addressed.

First of these is a representation of the magnitude and location of the proposed zoning changes, i.e. a map which shows only the lots which will be directly impacted by the update as well as those indirectly impacted by now finding themselves adjacent to a newly changed zone.  Such a map, which should be relatively easy to provide using the city’s GIS system, will allow citizens -and yourselves-  to understand what is happening to the city as a whole rather than the tedious lot by lot, map to map, comparison required by the present presentation.

Second, I find it disturbing that there is no discussion of the impacts on assessment or the speed with which change may come as a result of this basically upzoning process. The only reason for the entire procedure is to bring zoning into closer correlation with the OCP which defines our vision for future urban development and this primarily entails upzoning.

Let me hasten to add that I applaud this process.  Without it there would be no need for an OCP and every decision about change could be looked at in isolation.  After all, what we are trying to do with an OCP and zoning is to manage change over time in the light of a vision of the future.  I have often thought that a better name for a planning department might be the land use change management department.  The OCP and zoning define frameworks for the management of change which are, at best, of decade(s) definition before change has overwhelmed them.  But in the meantime they provide stability in a changing world.

Citizens are entitled to understand the nature of such changes by overview rather than by case by case surprises when a developer requests a major change in a neighbourhood.  Developers deserve to understand what and where they can develop without a battle to the death with the neighbourhood.  The neighbourhood deserves to understand that change can bring benefits as well as unpleasantness.  I suspect that many impacted by the current changes may find their retirement funds in the proposed upzonings. Citizens deserve to make a rational choice.  This cannot be done in ignorance.

Citizens deserve a map showing the changes being made and what remains the same and they deserve to understand the impact that these changes may have on their assessed values.  I ask that you lead this understanding.

Thanking you for your consideration, I look forward to your comments on these issues.

Ron Bolin