- BC Games
EFry ‘rapid-rush’ process fed frustration:McIntosh
Coun. Betty McIntosh says the city is going too fast in dealing with the Elizabeth Fry Society’s proposal to add a second building to its Sapperton facility.
Following a public hearing Monday, council approved third reading of EFry’s application to rezone two properties on Sherbrooke Street across the back lane from its familiar blue building on East Columbia Street. The society wants to construct a three-storey building that would include office space and 10 units of non-market housing for women and children.
Earlier this year, council approved EFry’s application to change the Official Community Plan for the properties from single-family to institutional to allow it to apply for rezoning.
McIntosh was the only councillor to vote against the rezoning Monday. McIntosh said there were steps missed along the way. Residents have objected to the city not requiring EFry to present the proposal to the local residents association or submit the plans to the city’s advisory planning commission.
“By facilitating a rapid-rush process it just fed into the (neighbourhood’s) frustration,” said McIntosh on Wednesday.
McIntosh said the neighbourhood’s message that approving the application would signal an erosion of their single family neighbourhood was loud and clear, but council didn’t hear it.
She was particularly concerned about a parking consultant’s report that justified the new building providing only 20 parking spaces.
“His numbers started getting more confusing,” said McIntosh.
She pointed out there was no consideration given to providing space for visitors to the office portion of the facility, EFry program users and volunteers in an area where parking is a huge problem with Royal Columbian Hospital across the street.
“His numbers were even seeming to change when he came up a second time (on Monday),” said McIntosh. “I told him, ‘I’m not an expert, but I don’t believe your report.’ ”
Coun. Bill Harper said parking was the most compelling reason to have concern about the project because it’s already an area where parking is at a premium. But he was persuaded by the consultant’s report because the nature of the clientele and the income levels of the women who will live there likely makes owning a car unaffordable.
“They’re not going to have vehicles,” said Harper. “I accepted that report, and the neighbourhood didn’t … There’s a lot of angst in the neighbourhood about council’s approach to this, and I don’t know where it’s coming from to lead them to believe it.”
Harper said the building facing Kelly Street is where the new housing will be and it will have a residential appearance that will blend in. He dismissed concern that the rezoning is the first step in a slippery slope to commercial or institutional rezoning of that side of Sherbrooke. He said that type of development is more appropriate on the other side of the hospital.
Harper said council has already proved it will protect the neighbourhood with its decisions on TransLink’s United Boulevard Extension proposal.
He noted EFry still has to work out many technical details with the city before the rezoning application can be given fourth and final reading.