Friday, February 28, 1997

Twilight zoning

No wonder residents of Forrest Drive and Ptarmigan Avenue in Yellowknife are anxious about the future of their neighborhood.

At a council meeting last Monday to discuss a proposed development, it became apparent that the city's zoning laws have become all but irrelevant.

It seems the city has decided to assess requests for changes in existing zoning on the basis of the design of the development instead of judging a proposal in terms of what the zoning laws would allow.

Good or bad, zoning laws exist for a reason. They describe what kind of building can be put up and what the building can be used for. Zoning laws ensure that house owners don't find someone building a factory next door.

Zoning laws also regulate the demands that people can put on the infrastructure of a neighborhood, which means that traffic patterns, parking, water and power use are taken in to consideration when any changes to existing zoning is proposed.

Residents of an neighbourhood have every right to a say in changes to zoning laws.

Despite the objections of the residents who attended the meeting, the proposed development for the Forrest Drive area was approved based on a drawing by the developers.

Left unanswered were questions concerning the impact on the volume of traffic and whether or not the existing infrastructure, including the roads, can accommodate the development and if not, who will pay for the upgrade?

Residents were justifiably concerned that there are no assurances that the finished project will conform to the drawing they saw months earlier.

The city's process of development approval makes a mockery of zoning laws. It is an arbitrary and self-serving system that effectively excludes residents from the decision-making process.

Residents should have a role in shaping their neighborhoods and the next council election will be a good opportunity to reassert that right. (28 / Feb / 97)

Shedding light

So, the City of Yellowknife's bylaw department has decided enough is enough and its constables will begin ticketing motorists for not turning their headlights on during the day.

Bylaw should give us a break. While the law should be followed to the letter on highways, where headlights can reduce accidents even during the day, we've seen nothing that proves running lights prevent them within city limits.

Discretion should be exercised and city motorists should use their common sense -- use their lights in the day when conditions require them. And if they don't, then dish out the tickets. (28 / Feb / 97)

Back to school

St. Patrick high school administration made the right choice recently when it allowed two students expelled in December back into class.

To regain classroom privileges, the students had to sign a contract with the school guaranteeing good behavior.

It is sad that older students would behave in such a manner in the first place, but kids will sometimes be kids. We must allow them a large margin of error before taking away their education, which is essential to a successful future.

Take away that future and we condemn them to failure. After all, a baseball player is allowed three strikes -- and the outcome isn't nearly as important. (28 / Feb / 97)