Meanwhile, in Shaughnessy
Odd and illuminating situations sometimes pop up at City Council while a speaker passes time waiting for a different and later agenda item.
On Thursday 3 March 2011, the Proposed Amendment to Subdivision By-law No. 5208 — Reclassification at 4888 Pine Crescent (see the five-page report) provoked a few thoughts.
What follows is a story that could never be recovered from the official minutes for the item.
The owner of 4888 Pine Crescent (at the corner of West 33rd Avenue) was seeking to subdivide his lot having a 90 foot frontage. Except for three similar lots at the other corners of his block, the ten other lots all have a frontage of 66 feet. That block sits at the southwest corner of a Shaughnessy Heights area designated E, meaning that the minimum width of each property should be 75 feet. Right across West 33rd to the south is an area designated C, which requires minimum width of 50 feet (most lots in the block on that side are 50 or 55 feet). In 2005 a property two blocks east, also designated E, was allowed subdivision into two 44 foot frontages. So precedent for exception existed.
The seven councillors present (5 Vision, 1 NPA, 1 COPE) voted unanimously to support the recommendation of staff and to refuse the application. Councillors Anton and Jang sympathized with the owner’s situation, but felt constrained by existing policy.
The owner had stated that approval to subdivide would result in the construction of two new dwellings under the prevailing RS-5 zoning, that the new structures would be in keeping with surrounding dwellings, and that he would remain as resident in one of the properties. Refusal, however, meant that the entire property would be sold that day to an offshore buyer, who likely would replace the existing dwelling with a new 6400 square foot residence out of scale with surrounding homes.
The striking thing in this little case study is Council and planner respect
• For existing policy on lot size, lot distribution, and lot zoning
• For 75% opposition from 12 nearby neighbors who responded to questionnaire
• For the long-established character of Shaughnessy
Contrast this with Vision-NPA Council and planner disrespect
• For policy and process throughout the entire period Norquay has been put into play
• For quantitative assessment of what 10,000 affected residents would prefer
• For the long-established character of Norquay
In the larger picture, it is a matter for wonder whether the mass-rezoning atrocity of a “neighbourhood centre” would ever be imposed west of Main Street.
Norquay looks toward mass rezoning for nine dwelling units crammed onto two 33 foot lots – even though Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision 15.5 states that sixplex form is Not Approved. Sixplex is there defined as “six units on two 33 foot lots.” Meanwhile, in Shaughnessy, a 90 foot lot is preserved for a single dwelling.