Concerns over limited public awareness of ‘significant’ projects in Sidney have prompted one councillor to ask for a broader discussion on the issue.
Coun. Peter Wainwright asked municipal staff to review a series of recommendations made by the Sidney Community Association (SCA) earlier in January, following a public presentation made by the Jocelyn Gifford, president of the SCA, on what they called significant projects in town. He said he found the SCA’s feedback on the issue constructive, adding he found himself supporting some of their ideas.
Wainwright, in a presentation to council, noted that the term ‘significant projects’ refers to proposals for new buildings, or major renovations to existing buildings, in Sidney’s commercial area — mainly the downtown core — regardless of number of storeys.
The Community Association, Wainwright outlined, is recommending proponents of such projects hold public meetings to present these types of developments, prior to the submission of complete applications by a developer to the Town. Wainwright added it would be hard to enforce this, as a proponent could simply “go through the motions”.
The SCA also asked that significant development proposals be advertised by the Town in the local paper, much like what’s done for rezoning and official community plan variances. Wainwright recommended the Town consider doing so, unless there’s a planned public hearing on the project, which brings with it advertising of its own.
Wainwright disagreed with the SCA on two more points: notifying the community when significant projects are to be discussed at a committee of the whole meeting (the Town already advertises these meetings on the Town’s website three to four days in advance), and; on showing pictures of a project to the community.
“I’m not in favour of this,” Wainwright stated, noting first drafts are always subject to change. “I feel that people should look at the final plans and not form an option based on an early illustration.”
Wainwright, in his report, agreed with the SCA that notices of new applications for significant projects be posted on the Town’s website, and that the radius for notices to go out on such developments be expanded to 225 metres.
Council voted in favour of having staff review the recommendations and reporting back at a later date for discussion on the impacts of those suggestions.