Two draft bylaws meant to guide the development and protection of city greenspace have missed their mark, says Carole Bookless.
The city wrote the bylaws in response to a petition launched by her Porter Creek Community Association.
That petition proposed two things.
First, that all subdivisions have a greenspace plan, approved through area plebiscite.
Second, that any area designated greenspace, park, park reserve or held under environmental protection in the Official Community Plan keep that designation unless changed through a public vote.
But the city’s draft bylaws don’t reflect the petition’s intent, said Bookless, adding councillors should send them to the rewrite desk.
Here’s what the city proposes.
First, that a planning study be drafted before breaking ground on any new subdivision in an area zoned greenbelt, park or protected through the Official Community Plan.
It must specify the location and size of trails, parks, greenbelts and other protected land in the area.
Second, that the planning study would then go to a public vote — but the results would not be binding.
Even if defeated, council could proceed with development without further public consultation.
The new bylaws are drafts and are being scrutinized by the city’s legal team, said administrative services director Robert Fendrick.
City staffers drafted the bylaws following Bookless’ two original questions, said Fendrick.
But Bookless calls the city’s interpretation of her questions “outrageous.”
“I would like them to write a bylaw that actually addresses the intent of the referendum questions,” said Bookless.
The city can only draft bylaws within its legal authority, said mayor Ernie Bourassa.
“We have to make sure that whatever we do is within our legal authority to do.”
A private landowner has the legal authority to subdivide the land and the city cannot stop it. In that case, putting the question to a public vote is immaterial.
“There’s enough case law that we would be slapped around pretty hard by the courts,” said Bourassa.
But he also agrees with some of Bookless’ concerns.
“If council desires to change space designated as greenbelt or environmental protection in the Official Community Plan, that’s a serious enough issue that maybe a city-wide referendum should be considered,” said Bourassa.
For example, that may be necessary if council wanted to allow for residential development in the Chadburn Lake reserve, an important wilderness recreation area.
“I hope council would put it to the community first before moving into that area,” he said.
Council has asked staff to revisit the wording, said Bourassa.
The two bylaws come up for first and second reading next week.
Council can then decide whether to pass them through third reading and put them on city books or take them to a citywide referendum slated for July 22.
The referendum would cost taxpayers $13,000 and would be run like an election. It will be citywide and binding.
If residents endorse the bylaws, they will become law.
Bookless launched the petition in November 2005, following two public meetings in which planners presented a infill development blueprint in Porter Creek.
The plans required rezoning to permit residential lots in a popular greenspace.
By February, she had collected more than the 2,000 signatures needed to force the city to draft the bylaws.
Now, Bookless will bring her complaints about the draft bylaws to next week’s council meeting.
Trio charged with
Saturday evening was a bust for three Whitehorse residents — literally.
The trio, who were arrested in a home on River Ridge Lane, is currently facing drug trafficking charges for cocaine.
The police raid went down at around 5:30 p.m.
Kimberly Rhonda Mulholland, 31, Curtis David Burns, 20, and Sidney Francis Smarch, 19, are facing numerous criminal charges including drug possession, trafficking and possession of funds obtained by crime.
Police from the drug squad and emergency response unit seized about one ounce of cocaine and a small amount of marijuana, along with some stolen property and a pile of cash.
While no specific dollar value has been given for money found during the bust, it totaled thousands of dollars.
Police have described it as “a large amount.”
However, the total cash found in the residence did not exceed $5,000, according to documents filed in court.
There were also two young children in the home when police arrived.
Family and Children Services removed a two-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy from the residence during the raid, according to police.
Each of the three people arrested appeared in court this week.
Mulholland is being held at Whitehorse Correctional Centre, while Burns and Smarch are out on bail.
All three have been ordered not to contact each other outside of court.
They are scheduled to appear again on March 29. (CO)