A “divisive” proposal to limit future density and building size in a Cloverdale neighbourhood came to a halt on Monday night (Mar. 12), when city council came to a tie vote on whether they should refuse the rezoning or begin a new public consultation process.
In September 2016, the city received a petition from residents of the Cloverdale Slope neighbourhood — a selection of residences between 58 Avenue and 60 Avenue, 180 Street and 182 Street — to rezone their area from a Single Family Residential Zone to a Comprehensive Development Zone in order to limit density and building size in the area, and to preserve “existing residential character.”
In April 2017, city staff began a neighbourhood consultation process to gauge the level of support for the rezoning. Each residence in the affected area was sent a survey, and by July 2017, a report with survey results was made available to city council.
The responses from that survey showed that the neighbourhood was divided on the subject of rezoning: 54 per cent supported the rezoning and 37 per cent were against. The remaining nine per cent did not submit a vote.
Those in support of the rezoning noted they were concerned about the impact that future development may have on views, neighbourhood character, parking and traffic, and “sense of spaciousness.”
More than half of the questionnaires that were returned with comments were in opposition to the project, and included concerns that rezoning would exclude large family households, and limit both affordable housing options and the ability to build a dream home.
City drafts ‘downzoning’ process
In the past, neighbourhood downzoning proposals had been conducted on a case by case basis. But the Cloverdale Slope proposal was not a typical case, as opposition levels were comparably high with previous downzoning processes — which city staff note usually range between 10 and 17 per cent.
Following the submission of the survey results, council directed city staff to draft a neighbourhood downzoning process and policy guidelines. Those new guidelines were approved in December 2017.
According to the new guidelines, the 54 per cent support rate for the rezoning of Cloverdale Slope falls within the “Moderate Neighbourhood Support Level,” which is between 50 and 64 per cent. Because it fell short of the “Sufficient Neighbourhood Support” of 65 per cent or higher, city staff were directed to work with the proponents of the rezoning and to facilitate further neighbourhood consultation.
According to a March 8 corporate report, the rezoning proponents declined to amend the rezoning proposal and instead requested more time for the residents who had not yet responded to the survey to complete and submit their votes.
By late January, owners of five additional properties had submitted survey responses. The results now stood at 59 per cent in approval, 37 per cent opposed. Four property owners in the affected area did not respond.
Council locked 3–3 over ‘divisive’ proposal
On Monday evening, a staff report recommending council reject the proposal due to the high level of opposition did not pass, as three councillors voted to instead start the survey process over again.
Counc. Bruce Hayne proposed the re-vote, citing the fact that the proposal had “raised a number of concerns within the community of Cloverdale,” and that it had taken an “extended period of time for it to come to council” after the initial survey. The delay, he noted, was because of the time it took to create the downzoning process guidelines.
During the eight months between the initial survey and the report coming to council, people may have moved out of the neighbourhood or joined it, he said.
Counc. Dave Woods supported Hayne’s proposal. Going back and “re-polling” would allow the city to get “clarity as to what exactly the people that currently live in that area now think” on what Woods called a “very contentious issue in the Cloverdale area.”
Counc. Vera LeFranc did not support the idea of a re-vote, as she thought it may open up a door to have residents come back and ask for another vote “time and time again if they don’t win the first time around.”
“It’s already a very divisive issue in the community,” she said. “If neighbours are going against neighbours and having this process go on for a very long time, I just don’t think it’s a very healthy environment in that community.”
At the end of discussion, council was locked 3–3 on whether to reject the area-wide rezoning or send it back for another survey. As mayor Linda Hepner and councillors Barbara Steele and Judy Villeneuve were absent on Monday, in the absence of a decision on the rezoning, the vote was deferred until a time when full council is present.