2016 was another eventful year.
The ongoing rezoning of 1745 Rockland Avenue has moved ahead to the satisfaction of the neighbours, we believe. After considerable work on the part of the neighbours, with some assistance from the RNA, they were able to convince City Council that the project warranted reworking before rezoning, and the developer came around to their thinking. The project is now working its way through the planning approval process as a three home single storey development, aligning with the parameters of the panhandle lot regulations. As I said last year at this time, it shows what neighbours can do when they join together if they have concerns about a proposed rezoning.
The proposal for development at 750 Pemberton Road seems to be moving ahead with a rezoning to enable three additional homes on the property. With input from Councillor Pam Madoff, broken rooflines — which are complimentary to the neighbourhood — were introduced to the plan giving the homes a more pleasant street presence. The initial Rezoning Community Meeting was held and the proponents are now working with the city planning to bring completed plans to council. As part of the rezoning a Heritage Assessment was done to the existing building and the Coach House. A report to council will be forthcoming outlining the range and scope of sensitive upgrades that might be undertaken to the primary building to enhance it while retaining the eight existing rental units. It seemed to be agreed by all that it is important in this era of exceedingly low rental vacancy rates that rezoning with retained rental space covenanted in perpetuity, or until the next rezoning request, was important to the long-standing tenants, city and the neighbourhood. Considerable work is projected for the existing Coach House and the neighbours of that Coach House have a variety of concerns that need to be addressed, given that the building is nonconforming and mere inches from the common property line.
1201 Fort Street/1050 Pentrelew (The Truth Center), is, as I write this, entering a rocky re-zoning process. This is a large and complex proposal with two lots proposed for rezoning. 1201 Fort Street, currently zoned R3-AM-2 for Mid Rise buildings of up to four storeys, and 1050 Pentrelew, currently zoned R1-B for Single Family Dwellings to two storeys. The current proposal is for two condominiums, one of 6-storeys and 47 units fronting on Fort behind a screen of Garry Oaks, and one of 5-storeys and 37 units, running parallel to Linden. The proposal also includes 12 approximately 3-storey townhouses fronting on Pentrelew. The entire project includes a total of 93 units. This rezoning will require an amendment to the Official Community Plan which generally limits development to up to 3 storeys in Traditional Residential area of 1050 Pentrelew. The neighbours are undertaking comprehensive discussions and working to articulate their vision for their area. All who are interested in Rockland are encouraged to join in this discussion. To date the process has not gone smoothly as the RNA LUC did not engage with the developer initially as there was litigation proposed around the legitimacy of the sale. With good counsel, we chose not to become involved in the affairs of a local institution or seem to be favouring or supporting one side or the other while this situation was unfolding. Fast forward approximately 4 months and the litigation collapsed. Fast forward another 2 months and the City is blaming us for delays to the Rezoning Process and seemingly fast tracking it to the understandably considerable consternation of the neighbours. I suspect this will be an ongoing topic for the next AGM program.
The exciting pending project is the start in 2017 of the creation of our Rockland Local Area Plan (LAP) to complement the recent, five years recent, Official Community Plan (OCP). Originally this LAP process was to take place somewhere around 2030 but common sense prevailed and the City has decided to fund an expedited LAP process. There will be a lot of opportunity for all in the neighbourhood to engage in the process. Given that our current Rockland Neighbourhood Plan was initially discussed and developed in the 1970’s, it certainly will be good to have another extensive conversation around how Rockland will evolve going forward. I would suggest that anyone interested in their neighbourhood go on line, or pick up from city hall, the 2012 OCP to review, particularly the sections around corridor development and neighbourhood densities.
I would suggest you follow the Fairfield LAP process. It gives a good understanding of what the process will look like.
The RNA LUC has had some preliminary discussion about what goals we might hope to achieve, or at least see vigorous discussion on, including:
1. Most importantly, that the LAP be adopted into bylaw and therefore have legal standing going forward. The current 1987 Rockland Neighbourhood Plan never received formal adoption and is merely a reference item in the City Planning process.
2. Make Rockland, or a significant portion, a Heritage Conservation Area similar to the Core Historic (downtown) area with the goal of enhancing the area through infill, building additions and open space with a high quality of architecture, landscape and urban design that that responds to its historic setting through sensitive and innovative interventions. (OCP p. 177)
3. Work toward a much more rigorous Tree Protection bylaw, perhaps restricting the removal of all significant trees, unless an imminent danger to public safety, whether on public or private property. Contentious I know, but trees really have little real protection now. We have learned that seemingly any tree can be removed simply by having it declared a danger by a certified arborist.
4. Introduce language matching current Gonzales R1-G zoning Open Site Space of 50% of lot area and 50% of front yard and a floor space ration of 0.5:1 to enhance the large lot character of Rockland as they have done for the Gonzales area.
What would you like to see included? Start making a list.
This is just a short list of items that we have learned over the years might be helpful in maintaining our neighbourhood, but the LAP process is an opportunity and — dare I say, responsibility — for all the neighbourhood to engage in.