The league is unhappy with how re-zoning process of the Molson re-zoning went. Hoping to have someone answer to what we feel was a major lack of proper process we have sent a letter the City Manager, Simon Farbrother. The full text of the letter is included below:
October 3, 2013
City of Edmonton
Re: Molson rezoning process
Dear Mr. Farbrother,
I am writing on behalf of a community that wants to see change. The recent rezoning of the Molson/Crosstown has plainly shown that the current decision making process in the City is not achieving the high quality and sustainable development our neighbourhood and city deserve.
Oliver Community League volunteers came to the consultation process in good faith and our expectations were consistent and reasonable. We asked simply for more homes, better pedestrian and transit connections, and respect for the site’s unique historic character. Yet the developers proceeded to submit their application a single week after we raised these concerns at our first meeting, suggesting how little time they afforded our feedback. They then chose to meet with us only once more before essentially finalizing their plans. We worked hard to create a positive dialogue, but were met with adversarial posturing and a complete lack of meaningful change in the proposals.
From the beginning, we also lobbied the City’s Current Planning Branch to pursue a Direct Control (DC) Zone. This approach would have provided a win-win for both the developers and the community, allowing the project to proceed while also providing reasonable assurances as to what our community could expect to see on site. Yet Current Planning inexplicably dismissed this compromise.
Most troubling is that the community was not alone in our desire to see something better for this important site. Professionals within the City’s own Administration raised serious concerns about the proposals and submitted explicit statements of non-support for the application during the City’s internal review process. These perspectives were entirely omitted from the report sent to Council by Current Planning, claiming that no civic departments had raised concerns. While we recognize that full agreement is not always possible within Administration, we feel it should be Council’s role to arbitrate between these dissenting views, rather than the responsibility of unelected individuals within Current Planning. The advice of professionals within their own Administration is vital for Council to make informed decisions.
We were encouraged that Councillors Don Iveson, Ben Henderson and Linda Sloan who spoke out in support, not only of our community, but of the strategic vision and priorities of our city. It is unclear whether the other Councillors’ decision to approve the proposals were a result of the lack of information contained in the report from Current Planning or other information not readily available to the public. We feel strongly that these questions should not be a matter of speculation.
We are not a NIMBY neighbourhood and we warmly welcome development that contributes to Edmonton’s strategic vision and the quality of our community. We are looking for assurances that decisions made by the City support these goals.
Initiating both a judicial review of the rezoning and an SDAB appeal of the development permit are options that are currently open to our community, but we would prefer to continue working constructively with the City. We would therefore look to you to conduct a comprehensive and meaningful review of your Administration to illuminate what processes and personnel led to a decision that seems to have so little regard for City policies and what is best for Edmontonians.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter and we look forward to your response.
Oliver Community League
Councillor Jane Batty, Ward 6