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What can council decide on Tuesday about the Rize? A planner’s answer

April 16th, 2012 · 15 Comments

I’d been asking for explanations of what the limits are on what council can do when it makes its decision about the Rize tower Tuesday.

Here is the answer from former senior planner Trish French below. I’ve checked with others too, who remind me that the point of a public hearing is for council to listen to the public and suggest changes based on what they’ve heard.

Changes that flow out of the public hearing are “legally defensible,” they say. And it’s not adequate for council to say (or think), “Oh, it’s been a long process and we can’t really ask the developer to go back and do a whole bunch more work at this point.”

Council can scale down a project, but can’t scale up without another public hearing.

Here’s what Trish had to say:

Just a technical answer to Frances’ question about what Council can do at this point. based on my past experience with major rezonings.

Legally Council can approve or refuse the rezoning application as it stands; or they can approve it with any revisions they choose to impose. For example, they could reduce the height and density, place limits on the uses or size of retail units etc.

Then a revised scheme that meets the revised parameters would be prepared by the applicant, for Development Permit Application. There could be public consultation on the revised scheme before any decision on the DPA. In CD-1 rezonings like this, not only does the Development Permit Board need to approve the eventual form of development, but so does Council, before the zoning is finally legally “enacted”.

In practical terms, Council modifications at the time of a rezoning decision are usually modest, i.e. they are modifications to the proposal under consideration, not radical change to it.

What is often happening between the end of the public delegations and Council’s debate and decision is that Council is discussing with staff what the options for modification are. Staff might or might not discuss with the applicant how open they are to changes. (Council is not supposed to be talking to the applicant at this point in the process.) If Council (i.e. the majority, in caucus discussions) wants changes, they (with or without staff help) will draft wording to revise the proposed zoning bylaw. This is presented in the form of a motion at the Council, during their debate on the rezoning.


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