July 12 Public Hearing
On the evening of 12 July 2011, City Council held public hearing on Rezoning: 2667-2703 Kingsway (agenda item 3). (Eye on Norquay generally refers to this rezoning as 2699 Kingsway.) The hearing of item 3 ran from about 8:00 pm until about 11:00 pm.
The results of the hearing: Correspondence: 25 letters in opposition; 1 letter related to other issues. Speakers: 12 in favor; 6 opposed; 1 on other issues. Vote: Ellen Woodsworth opposed; carried by the other 10 councillors. Ellen Woodworth valiantly posed detailed questions to staff, who brushed them away with perfunctory nod and wave. David Cadman sharply criticized the Norquay planning, the November 2010 imposition of the “Plan,” and the lack of progress on developing amenity strategy — but felt constrained by what has become “policy” to support the rezoning. Many of the remaining councillors gave fulsome credence to the 12 speakers in support — most of whom said little more than: “I would like to buy a condo that costs $300,000 to $400,000.” None of the supporters showed any familiarity with the rezoning proposal, or manifested any interest in the local community and the benefits that the development fails to bring. No respect at all was given to the unanimous opposition displayed by correspondence, in quantity double that of the supporting speakers. One of the opposing speakers drew much attention to the greenway that runs through the development, and how that commitment to the community has already been deferred for decades.
Two major points of Norquay community concern emerged in the presentations and ensuing discussion.
The more specific concern was the form of the development, and its failures to respect the space that it will occupy. Much of the responding discussion waved a large red herring, by dismissing such criticism as out-of-bounds to Norquay Plan policy. It was not, though, because the recently acquired developer “rights” to the FSR and height imposed on Norquay were never contested.
In particular, two of the perceptive and consensus points that arise from the Urban Design Panel (UDP) review are left to vague language, behind-the-scenes planner discretion, and therefore a possible lack of satisfactory resolution, and consequent unwarranted concession to the developer. (Since city planners unilaterally terminated Norquay Working Group in February 2011, the Norquay community has been shut out of planning for its own future.)
The UDP issued the following two items as the first of four in their Consensus on Key Aspects Needing Improvement:
• Consider moving the garbage room from the courtyard area;
• Design development to have the project better address the unique confluence of two street grids;
Director of Planning Brent Toderian and a councillor took offense at the notion that Norquay residents may at this stage lack trust in planner discretion — which Toderian chose to describe as their “professionalism.” Eye on Norquay will make further separate comment on this issue.
The more general concern relates to the increased development that was promised to generate payback to Norquay in the form of amenities.
Allocating a pittance CAC of $100,000-plus to mitigate the impact of shadowing on the adjacent daycare means that in this first major rezoning, Norquay mostly suffers damage, and would be better off without the development, in terms of net benefit.
The Norquay Plan said
As part of the implementation phase, the City (in consultation with the community) will develop more detailed strategies for service and amenity improvements and ensure that new development on both City and private land pays a fair share towards public benefits to meet the demands created by the additional population. (p. 16-17)
Thus far, the only Norquay realization of this development of strategies for improvements has been to experience unilateral termination of the Norquay Working Group and subsequently be told that mentioned new groups would not be formed because planning wants to do this without the community. A major development can race ahead in a few months — meanwhile, the rewards promised to the community wander off into some indefinite mañana. Fine words in that Norquay Plan; but so far, the only implementation is for a developer jumping headfirst into the frenzy of a land rush.
Two major Kingsway sites (2300 and 2699 Kingsway) are now done-up deals … with three left to go (Purdy’s, 2400 Motel, Canadian Tire)! Given that track record, what are the odds that Norquay ends up with more than empty promises as its already dense population explodes with profitization?
(A 37-space daycare buried within 2300 Kingsway is no significant reward to a Norquay population of 10,000 — in relation to the scale of the project. Think only of increased vehicle traffic, surrounding parking impacts, and loss of sunlight and views.)
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Also see this report at CityHallWatch.
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