Ward 11 has a broad range of neighbourhoods. From the still being built Quarry Park, or recently new Garrison Green, to established communities seeing transformation in housing types through zoning changes and, and those communities on the cusp of changes mostly centred around current commercial locations. This variance means amenities like playgrounds and transit stations are at different life cycle stages, some infrastructure is still to be built, and there are also utility considerations surrounding re-development.
This week, the Guidebook for Great Communities goes before the Planning and Urban Development (PUD) committee to be voted on to refer to council for a vote for adoption (March 2021). The Guidebook is a high level planning document which lays the groundwork for re-imagining the functions and form of our neighbourhoods.
I've been fortunate to be part of the working group to shape the Guidebook. I came to be on the group through my work as a community advocate in Haysboro on the planning committee and as president of the community association. To the group I brought the perspective of community members and advocated strongly for the use of language that was common - ie. not planner speak. I also know that there is much concern over how the guidebook can affect communities and specifically individual properties around zoning. This FAQ page answers many issues including the fact that the guidebook does not make a blanket zoning change in neighbourhoods.
I endorse the guidebook. In part because yes, I was on the working group, have been a part of multiple planning exercises for Haysboro and Ward 11, but also I see the the opportunity the guidebook affords us in thinking about some of the larger challenges established neighbourhoods face around aging infrastructure and amenities. The guidebook lays the framework for tools being created in the Established Areas working groups (which I'm also a part of) - this is the conversation on how dollars are invested into neighbourhoods when development happens. The guidebook also is the basis for a Local Area Plan - in which multiple communities actively work together to imagine the future. The guidebook by very nature set the stage for participatory planning, this is its greatest success.
Yes, it is an ambitious piece of policy that encourages densification. It also encourages local commercial integration into neighbourhoods so businesses can thrive. It demonstrates how commercial and residential can operate in tandem to create a vibrant sense of community. It makes space for thinking about the neighbourhood as a whole rather than individual lots - this leads to thinking about how green spaces, parks, libraries, schools, transit, and recreation amenities continue to stay viable and operational through a well populated residential strategy. This is as much about the future economy as it is about the future of how we can live sustainably in our neighbourhoods, flexing through housing types as our needs change throughout the years.
Currently, most Ward 11 communities are below peak population. Densification gets us our best return on investment for services - fire, police, snow clearing, transit, utility upgrades and delivery. I want neighbourhoods where schools aren't at risk of closure. I want residents to be able to operate a thriving local business in their community - restaurants, flower shops, massage studios. I want to be able to walk to get milk or a coffee. I want playgrounds to be upgraded not through fundraising but because there is a tax base which provides the City with the funds needed to take on upkeep.
I want you to know that I'm aware of the concerns many have. I am invested in supporting communities through planning. I believe that new residential units bring people coming to your community - neighbours, friends, volunteers, students, local business owners. People are what make communities, not buildings. Providing choice, space, and opportunity for many is what I support.