Paradise approves Market Ridge change

By Mark Squibb

Paradise council has revised a commercial development plan, but some councillors were not onboard with approving the revision without consulting with residents first.

Deputy Mayor Kimberley Street said the Town had received a request from the developer, Karwood Contracting, to make changes to the adopted Market Ridge commercial residential development plan that would see the construction of 16 semi-detached homes rather than the previously approved 15 townhouses.

Street said changing ‘townhouses’ to ‘semi detached units’ would not affect the development usages and would remain consistent with the intent of the municipal plan.

She moved that the development plan be revised by changing ‘row houses’ to ‘semi-detached dwellings.’ The revision would be made without any amendments to the Town’s development regulations.

Street added that while the Town is not required to consult the public nor publish a discretionary notice regarding the revision, she felt that, as a courtesy, it should inform residents of the change.

“I feel like we should let residents in the area know what is happening,” said Street. “This is going from 15 townhouses to 16 semi-detached in the exact same place as it was prior to this (revision),” said Street. “So, as a matter of informing residents and making them aware of the change, I’d like to ask council to approve direction to staff to put out an information notice to residents within 200 metres.”

Councillor Larry Vaters, however, thought council should take it a step further.

“I agree, in principle, with moving forward with a note letting residents know, but of course, we would essentially by letting residents know after we have already approved this,” said the councillor.

Vaters said that while the change may be more beneficial to the Town from a snow removal perspective, and while council would be in the right to approve the revision, he felt uncomfortable moving ahead without allowing residents to have a say.

“There’s an opportunity for additional feedback, and council is essentially saying, ‘We’re going to go ahead and approve this anyway,’” said Vaters. “That’s within our purview to do, and there’s nothing stopping us from doing that, but I think in the interest of transparency, open government, and engagement, it’s in our best interest to allow residents to have input into this particular item.”

Councillor Patrick Martin echoed Vaters

“Without restating everything councillor Vaters has said, I feel the same way,” said Martin. “Considering the amount of engagement that we have had and the feedback that we’ve had, and the number of upset residents we’ve had, for right or for wrong reasons, I do echo his comments.”

Street said the revision won’t change anything in the plan other than the type of housing which will be permitted.

“The layout is exactly the same, except that it’s not townhouses being built, its duplexes,” said Street. “They have the exact same footprint that the townhouses would have.”

Councillor Glen Carew, while not a member of the planning committee, sat in on the meeting when the revision was discussed.

“What I heard in that particular discussion was that this is a, I won’t say minor, but a slight change to the layout that was already approved,” said Carew. “That whole development is still subject to a traffic plan that is forthcoming, a revaluation of the traffic plan. We had residents in that area who met with the bulk of us here on council, and those were the things that were important to residents, and some other things as well. But the most important thing was traffic.”

Carew allowed the new layout will be more efficient from a public works perspective.

He added he would support the revision, but would be awaiting the traffic plan before making a final decision on the development.
Vaters reiterated his concern as not with the revision itself, but with the lack of engagement with residents regarding it.

Vaters said he would like to make a motion to postpone voting on the revision, however, Mayor Dan Bobbett pointed out the motion to approve the revision was already on the floor.

Vaters then argued the vote to postpone the motion should take place before the vote to add the revision. Director of Corporate Affairs Terrilynn Smith said the motion to postpone should have been made prior to the motion to approve.

Martin began to say he agreed with Vaters, but Bobbett cut in to say Smith had already laid out the proper protocol that must be followed.
Martin said sending a notice to residents was useless if residents were not going to have a say in the revision.

“The decision is already going to be made, so an information note is nothing,” said Martin.

Street disagreed.

“I wouldn’t say that the information note is nothing,” said Street. “The information note is being respectful and making residents in the area aware of a slight change. Like I said, it’s not a discretionary (use), so it’s not something that can be debated and discussed further, it’s a part of a plan that’s already been adopted, and within the development regulations, it says mixed-uses could change.”

While all of council was in agreement to add the clause about the information note to the motion, Vaters and Martin voted against the motion to revise the development.

The remainder of council voted in favour of the motion and the revision was approved.

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