Letter to the Editor

Day-care proposal violates city plan and bylaws I am writing to clarify some of the issues regarding the application to rezone 710 Jarvis St.

Day-care proposal

violates city plan

and bylaws

I am writing to clarify some of the issues regarding the application to rezone 710 Jarvis St. so that a day care can be developed.

I am strongly against any kind of spot rezoning anywhere in the city. Many of the residents of this area participated in the Official Community Plan meetings and the downtown planning in good faith.

To allow spot rezoning makes it all seem rather pointless.

The ink is barely dry on the new zoning bylaw 2006-01 and the Downtown Plan and the city is considering creating what is, essentially, a new zoning designation for this single lot.

This application seems to be pushing the envelope in several directions. In the past a minor zoning variance was considered less than 10 per cent and anything greater was a major variance.

A child-care centre according to the zoning bylaw 2006-01 is supposed to be 930 square metres and be on a corner lot, or close to a park (6.6.1).

This lot is only 465 square metres.

This is only 50 per cent!!

Presumably this standard has been set to ensure quality care for the children and adequate outdoor play space.

It also states that there should be five square metres per child (6.6.2) of outdoor, fenced landscaped play area, which is certainly not available. With off-street parking there will be no yard left.

Most residents on this block are very well established, most having been here for more than 10 years and some for a number of decades.

It is unfortunate that the former resident of 710 was taken advantage of because of her mental health and addiction problems and her house became a centre of undesirable activities for a period of time.

(The citizens certainly did try to protest this and ask for police assistance but little was done and the woman was killed by a drug overdose. To my knowledge no charges were ever laid).

However that is not a true reflection on the tone of this neighbourhood. People are crying for residential lots in this part of the city and to take another valuable residential lot out of circulation for a commercial use is ridiculous.

This is a residential neighbourhood and the neighbours would love to have another family join them.

A day home or other home-based business would be a more acceptable use and conform to the zoning. I understand there has been a flyer distributed to some of the neighbours that this is not a commercial rezoning.

They can call it what they want but if there are over 70 “client visits” every day plus no residential occupancy that sounds like commercial to me.

My husband and I also wanted to develop a property for our own business and spent several years looking for a property that was appropriately zoned (even though we own property in this area) and did finally find one.

We jumped through all the hoops at considerable cost. Shouldn’t it be a level playing field?

Just this spring, a property came up on Wheeler Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues that was a good house with an adjacent empty lot (i.e. appropriate square footage) and appropriate zoning that would have been ideal for such a business proposal.

I think it is incumbent on business people to do their homework and legwork.

Spot rezoning encourages people to buy cheaper land and then increase the property value simply through rezoning and I think this should be strongly discouraged as it also leads to “holes” in what should be the commercial area and makes a mockery of the whole zoning process.

I would also draw your attention to section 6.2.1 of the zoning bylaw with respect to a major home-based business (which is a step down from what is being proposed).

“The privacy and enjoyment of adjacent dwellings shall be preserved and the major home based business shall not adversely affect the amenities of the neighbourhood” and “shall not generate any pedestrian or vehicular traffic or parking in excess of that which is generally characteristic of the neighbourhood within which it is located and shall not generate more than two clients … at any given time.”

As well section 3.1.3 of the Downtown Plan recommends to “maintain the single family character, density and style” for the Old Town neighbourhood” by “allowing only infill of single family and duplex dwellings and encouraging home-based businesses which maintain the single-family residential character of Old Town.”

I would suggest this proposal is in direct conflict with the Downtown Plan as well.

A number of residents in this immediate area removed shacks and built substantial houses to current code based on the zoning bylaw being residential for single family or duplex.

I believe the city wants the housing stock to be upgraded in this way.

This kind of spot rezoning for commercial use creates uncertainty and people will be reluctant to sink money into a residential property that could unpredictably become a neighbour to a commercial activity.

Thus the city would be shooting itself in the foot to spot rezone this lot.

I feel the onus should be on any applicants to prove that their proposal is good for the neighbourhood rather than the other way around when it is a rezoning application.

As well, the city process that is in place for debating this is unnecessarily confrontational and intimidating for the participants.

In summary, development should conform to the intent of the Downtown Plan and the Official Community Plan.

I submit that this proposal is in conflict with intent and letter of the zoning bylaw with respect to child-care centres and businesses in a residential area as well as in conflict with the intent of the recently developed Downtown Plan and should not be further considered.

Pamela Holmes


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