Residents demand answers
City's regulating method panned

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 26/97) - Residents concerned about a zoning change in their neighborhood highlighted what could be a serious flaw in a new method the city is using to regulate development.

The main concern of the 25 residents of Ptarmigan Avenue and Forrest Drive who attended Monday's council meeting was the impact a medium-density townhouse development will have on their neighborhood.

The land is now zoned for institutional use.

Accurately gauging that impact has been difficult. Little information on the development is available, and no formal proposal has been made put forward.

"If you sense some nervousness in the residents of Ptarmigan Road, it's because of that (uncertainty)," said resident David McCann.

Under a new technique the city is using to assess requests for zoning changes, council makes changes conditional on specific development designs, rather than what the zoning would allow.

At the public hearing stage, however, little information about designs has been available.

"Maybe we should have another public hearing," suggested alderman Dick Peplow. "We don't know what we're discussing because we don't have a plan."

Peplow echoed a concern raised by alderman Merlyn Williams at a hearing on a Range Lake North zoning change in November.

At that time, Williams suggested council was "putting the cart before the horse," in asking residents for input on the proposed 36-unit development.

Despite resident's objections, the city approved the zoning change.

On Monday architect Chong Park -- a partner in the 50-unit development proposed for the former Telsat site between Ptarmigan Road and Forrest Drive -- presented a drawing of the proposed development near the end of the public hearing.

Park said he wasn't building at the city's new Niven Lake subdivision because lots there cost $60,000-$70,000, far more than the property he intends to build on.

Among the questions raised by residents that still have to be answered are:

  • what assurances do residents have that Park will follow through with the plans he has with the property?

  • will a secondary access route to Ptarmigan Road be required?

  • what impact will the rezoning have on traffic in the area?

  • is current infrastructure in the area capable of handling the added load created by the development and, if not, who would pay to upgrade it?