I’ve been a tich occupied recently; along with neighbours we’ve been trying to influence the Preston-Carling secondary plan. Regular readers here will recall our lack of enthusiasm for the way this study was
run run over us, To provide a detailed list of suggested improvements would be so long as to bore you to tears.
Councillor Holmes has pared down the list to a shorter group of four resolutions, all of which lost at Planning Committee last week. Now I do understand Committee members voting to support the plan produced by their department, according to the marching orders transmitted to the planners through that same Committee. This is not the same as receiving independent professional planning advice.
Back when I was in business (before the life of abundant free time brought on by retirement) I chose several times to support one of my staff members in a dispute with someone, even when the staffer was wrong, because it is something one should do — back up staff, show support, generate some morale amongst other staff. But afterwards comes the scramble to rectify the underlying problem that was not improved by so-visibly supporting the staff.
Fixing a problem plan is not so easy. But it will have to be done.
In talking to a number of Councillors, I was pleasantly surprised at how well most seemed to grasp the “big picture” part of our planning issue. Pretty much all the dead ends from Albert in the North to Carling in the South are designated low rise. Except for the north side of Norman. And there is no planning rationale provided for that exception. Possibly because there cannot be one that isn’t risible or obviously shaped like a pretzel.
When talking to councillors, It seemed to be fairly easy to earn the comment “that makes sense”. So I am a bit cheered that councillors actually have their heads screwed on right when it comes to recognizing good planning, at least in the broad strokes.
But then comes the usual Ottawa bugbear. The “oh no, someone might sue us” cry that is second nature to every bureaucrat at City Hall. Is it tattooed on their brains? Except for Councillors, where it gets expressed as “but then it will go to the OMB and that will cost us money”. Such sudden cost consciousness.
Well, duh, it will cost us money whichever way Councillors vote.
For something as contentious as a an area plan, especially one fast-tracked on the Lac Megantic express, with plenty of bruised feelings amongst developers, land owners, the “old guard” industrialists, the let’s-sell-and-make-a-quick-buck crowd, and the OMG this is such a cute neighbourhood let’s all have more babies residents association, someone is sure to appeal.
So it will be interesting to see this Wednesday if Councillors vote for good planning (hint: four motions from Holmes correct the most egregious errors in the CDP) or if good planning is suborned in a vain hope of minimizing OMB bills.
It didn’t have to be this way. It should have been a win-win plan with only the odd outlier appealing. Instead, the winners vs losers scenario ratchets up the conflict. The consulting lawyers and planners run off to the bank with our money. This never ends well.
The neighbourhood becomes damaged goods.