Newcastle+Brechin Draft Plan at Council March 14
Posted by Ron Bolin on March 7, 2011 in CITY GOVERNMENT, PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT, SOCIAL ISSUES |
Daniel Appell: March 7, 2011
The Newcastle + Brechin Neighbourhood draft plan is going to council March 14. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you are probably aware of my views regarding this plan. To briefly recap, this is not a real neighbourhood plan. This is a destructive farce of a plan designed for the benefit of a few would be developers while harming the community as a whole.
We need put a stop this so-called plan. And we need to put an end to fake, useless and destructive planning altogether.
The Brechin Hill Community Association is asking that you show up to the council meeting. These people are carrying a huge burden for the entire city, and they could use your support. If you want to speak, that would be fine, but if you just show up; numbers speak volumes to politicians.
I believe this is a rare opportunity to change not only how development proceeds in Newcastle and Brechin Hill, but to change the way planning policy is made in this city. This is a very necessary step towards establishing planning that is both effective and responsive. This might also encourage the establishment of a higher standard of professionalism within the planning department. All this is needed if we are going to overcome the challenges facing us in the years ahead.
This is one of those times when just showing up could make a real difference. So, show up at the Shaw Theatre, in the Conference Centre at 7 pm on March 14th.
The issue of incorporating three specific sites into the neighbourhood plan for potential highrise development is of course cause for concern. Does this mean there is nothing at all worthy in this plan? Personally I think the city should never have combined the two Neighbourhood Associations into a single plan, each neighbourhood being pretty distinct from the other.
It is also important to note, re highrises on the waterfront, that the W2 and W3 waterfront designations in the draft of the New Zoning Blaw call for medium and low/medium density respectively and a maximum height of 9 metres, “Within the W2 and W3 Zone the height of a principal building shall be measured from the elevation on the centre line of the highway on which the site abuts to the highest point of the building taken as an average of the highway elevation.”
This of course does not mean that, if the new zoning bylaw is adopted, any property could not look at a height variance. In that event the community could also come out to oppose or support as they see fit.
What would really concern me is if there is an arbitrary change to the Waterfront Zones height limitations prior to the new bylaw being adopted.
The water views could be much improved for everyone if we floated the towers in the harbour like fishing bobbers. There is plenty of space between the boats and the planes, and we could become a destination attraction just like Venice. Would that be allowable under the new zoning?
While I’m not sure an eight storey plus building would actually float in that shallow water, it would be possible to build one on pilings. Would this improve the view? Probably not. Would this make Nanaimo look like Venice? My guess is, no.
Thanks for the reminder, Gordon. The 8 storey plus designation refers to the height above Stewart Ave. This means that along the waterfront, or in the water a building could reach a height of up to ten or eleven storeys without anybody being able to say anything about it. If there is an objection it will forever be countered by, “it complies with the OCP.” Once these “arbitrary” regulations are adopted there is little hope for further community input and no going back.
At this point I believe there is nothing in the OCP that says 8 stories for any part of the waterfront. Correct me if I am wrong but If the neighbourhood plan is adopted the 8 stories are just recomendations allowable through the neighbourhood plan, the zoning bylaw would take precedence and would require rezoning for anything over 3 stories?
There are more issues than meet the eye in the N/B high-rise discussion, they include;
Overshadowing of public waterfront space, and park lands (Newcastle Island).
Overview of single family homes.
Conflicts with existing uses (marina’s, pubs, motels, ferry terminal, float planes).
Lack of public amenities (accessible parks and open space).
Lack of supporting mixed uses (walkable communities) food stores, public services.
Auto dependency resulting from location.
Transportation system is inadequate to service these sites (conflicts with ferry queues).
Ferry queue conflicts with emergency access for ambulance and fire trucks.
Scale of projects out of character with the neighbourhood.
Adjacencies to hazardous fuel storage facilities.
Loss of marine related uses, we only have limited inner harbour waterfront for marine use.
High-rises are energy hogs that do not advance efforts at sustainable development.
High rises do not contribute to the local economy-contractors are usually from outside of the community.
High rises do not use rapidly renewable resources – wood products – from the local economy.
High rises are mostly concrete-the manufacture of which is a major green house gas contributor.
High-rises are not mixed communities-families with children.
High rise residents live in isolation and do not know their neighbours.
High densities in these locations do not take advantage of sunk costs for infrastructure (downtown).
And so forth.
No one doubts there are not a lot of issues and hopefully these will come out at First & Second readings, perhaps with a little luck even to the point of council rejecting the plan. In the event they do not then there is always the public hearing. My points are simply to bring the other stuff to light with regards to the process. To make it clear I do not favour High-Rises on the waterfront.
It seems to me as if rejecting the B+N plan is really no better than passing it. If the primary issue is to preserve the waterfront then that is what is needed. Rejecting the plan still leaves this more fundamental problem unanswered. Should a neighbourhood plan be able to over-ride an OCP? Shouldn’t the OCP settle the question of the waterfront?
Good points Ron. I believe the way it used to be was that the Neighbourhood plan took precedence and the way they say it is now is that Neighbourhood Plans are to conform to the OCP.
Been checking the OCP and I believe this one policy in the corridors designation is the only policy to speak to height along Stewart Avenue; “Development in Corridors will be characterized by a mix of residential,commercial, professional, and service uses, with residential developed atmedium to high level densities. Residential densities of 50 to 150 units per hectare in two to six storey building forms shall be supported for Corridors.”
Oddly enough in the new zoning bylaw the height max for waterfront zoning is three stories. Seems to be a lack of consistency also in that Stewart Avenue, perhaps Departure Bay as well, would be the only corridor abutting the water.