Council had a very interesting and very long conversation at General Committee in regards to the implementation of an Interim Control By-Law (ICBL). I put forward this motion to create an ICBL as I felt this was a very straightforward proposal to utilize a tool the Province gives to Municipalities. The province allows municipalities to implement ICBLs for the purpose of putting pauses in place while a study is undertaken in respect of land use policies in the municipality (or a defined part of the municipality). As per Council’s direction, Town staff are currently conducting a study of the Zoning in Stable Neighbourhoods. Thus, I felt that it made sense, in the interim, while that study is being undertaken, that we should institute an ICBL to not allow Minor Variances within stable neighbourhoods. An ICBL would put a temporary hold on requests for changes to our zoning bylaws, and thus prevent the situation where an individual or corporation comes in to ask for more than what is currently allowed within the Town’s zoning. The conversation around the table was very supportive of implementing this common sense approach to managing planning issues in stable neighbourhoods. Council was also supportive of asking that staff speed up the completion of the study, bring it back to Council as soon as possible, so that we could have a fulsome discussion about and make decisions with regards to zoning in our stable neighbourhoods. While Council in the majority was very supportive, Mayor Dawe stated that the issue of development in stable neighbourhoods was “Much ado about nothing” and was not supportive of the motion. I think residents affected by inappropriate development in their neighbourhoods would take issue with Mayor Dawe’s position. Continuing to allow requests for developments that aren’t currently allowed under our existing bylaw is most definitely an issue for our community.
Personally, I am not a fan of the “do nothing” approach. Asking for a temporary pause on such amendment requests while our staff review the issue and make recommendations regarding our zoning by-law only makes sense. Doing nothing while we wait for that report does not make sense, well, to me at least. As I said at the table I expect some developers and builders will be opposed to the Town going down this path, but I am elected to represent the best interests of our residents not the development community. The bylaw won’t stop developments that meet the existing bylaw. But it will put a pause on council considering requests for developments that are not allowed under the current ByLaw.
Will the ICBL prevent a “monster home” that meets our zoning?? No it will not, because it meets the zoning… BUT the ICBL will temporarily stop those development requests that are looking to increase their lot size or height or setbacks beyond what is currently allowed. The ICBL would remain in place until the Staff study comes back to Council for review and approval, sometime in late March/Early April. At the end of the day this is a real problem in our stable neighbourhoods and one that Council needs to address. I believe that the “anything goes” approach to development is hardly in the community’s best interest.
The motion to implement an ICBL was approved 8-1 with Mayor Dawe opposed. I am looking forward to getting that study back so that Council can look at the recommendations from staff regarding our zoning, and move forward with a ByLaw that will better define appropriate development in Aurora and better protect our stable neighbourhoods from inappropriate development. Now that’s Smart Growth!! #GettingThingsDone