Neighbourhoods and Developments

Lawrence Rieper’s Presentation to City Council on August 26 re: 388 Machleary Street:

I have lived in the Old City Neighbourhood for many years. This proposal is ridiculous. The proponent refers to the site use as Medium Density Residential. With upwards of 175 units on about 4 stories, it qualifies for high Density Residential, normally reserved for high-rises. In fact out of all the collection of built and proposed high-rises in the city, only one comes close to 175 units (the average is closer to 120). The winner is Pacifica, on Front Street, with 169 units on 20 floors. The one that sits heavily on the seafront and blocks the bottom of Campbell Street. Pacifica has, and 388 Machleary intends to have, townhouses too.We don’t know what, if any, efforts Molnar made to find a client that wanted a community service building (like Chartwell, the former owner), but they acquired a cleared site of 1.16 hectares for about $3.3M, with an incredible view of our harbor – that had not been fully visible for nearly a century. Certainly 100 to 200 people appreciated the unobstructed view from the site to watch the snowbirds this summer and last year.

NOCA took a proactive stance to encourage development of 388 Machleary Street, and ended up with interest from Molnar. Hardly a mutually supportive relationship – NOCA an open community organization and Molnar, a private business. Both sides needed to learn about zoning and the latter about local conditions, much of which knowledge was gained from various open houses. Their presentations of density seem to have varied very little over the past year or two.

In 1992, after a couple of years of community meetings, the City created the Old City Neighbourhood Concept plan, detailing the zoning in its area.  The plan is unique in the fact that it enshrines the precedence and priority of the Old City Neighbouthood Plan policies and land designations over the OCP. I believe this priority and precedence is still active in the plan. I have seen no evidence of a legal deletion of the two page preamble signed by Mayor Joy Leach & Jim Bowden and I have checked all the amendments since. You will see that the neighborhood plan was intended to last into the future and protect this community.

Quoting the preamble: “Future High Density Development (100 units/ha. and greater) shall generally be restricted to the downtown core.” The maximum density target specified in the OCP is 50 units per hectare. Another example of how dense and inappropriate this proposal is. The illustrations (without the trees), remind me of maximum security prison.

I have tried to understand both Corridor (COR) and Comprehensive Development (CD). The former has no connection with a road or passage, just the property and COR1 is designated as medium density residential. Apparently, 388 may be some other unspecified type of corridor with other options. CD 11 doesn’t yet exist, but will be the result of creative negotiations between local government and the developer to create a feasible development plan, to create ‘one of a kind zones’. Existential!
What I’d like for the site is clarity on the legality of the Neighbourhood Plan and City staff and Council to protect the interests of its residents as much as or more than developers. This property is suitable to become a public park or be zoned single-family duplex like the surrounding area. Molnar Group doesn’t seem to appreciate the scale here.

OCP (quotes): “The Old City …Plan is attached hereto and made a part of this plan. “The policies and land designations of the Old City… Plan constitute the OCP policies and designations for the Old City …Plan area. The Old City… Plan, policies and designations take precedence over, and replace, other policies in the OCP where they conflict.” AND
The Old City Neighbourhood Plan has a two page preamble: “This schedule is the old City Neighbourhood Concept Plan. The policies and land designations of this plan constitute the official Community plan policies and designations for the plan area. As a result, policies and designations of Schedule ‘J’ have priority over other policies in the OCP which may conflict with the policies of this schedule”(Old City Plan).

End of Lawrence Rieper’s Presentation to Council

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