Councillor Ryan Donn broke the tie and gave Mayor Colin Basran a victory during Monday’s city council meeting.
Donn’s absence from an April 23 public hearing led to a tie vote that defeated a motion to approve a six-storey housing project on Groves Avenue in South Pandosy. City staff had recommended that council approve the zoning change from large lot housing to high-rise apartment housing and to make the property high density as opposed to its current medium density status.
Basran decided, however, to invoke his executive privilege and put the issue right back into council’s lap on Monday. Donn provided the winning vote to push the Abbott Park Holdings development forward.
Basran’s rare decision to bring the issue back—he believes he did it only once during his first term—upset the South Pandosy residents who fought and defeated the project at the public hearing.
“We certainly don’t object to development,” South Pandosy resident Larry Kelly told Castanet on Monday morning. “We’ve approved so many developments for our area. Sopa Square for one. Abbott House for another. And they were all conforming to our community plan.
“There were some things that we allowed that weren’t according to the community plan, but this one does not meet any of those things for us at all. And it does not add to the community.”
Basran told council he brought the project back to council simply because he believes it’s best for the city.
“I do believe that this application does have a benefit to the area and is in keeping with our goal of directing a lot of our future growth into our town centres and our urban core,” Basran said. “I believe that the application put forward is not a large departure from the official community plan as it currently exists.”
He also felt the zoning term “high-rise apartment housing” scared the nearby residents. He noted the building will not be allowed to go more than six storeys and will be similar to the heights of other buildings in the area.
The four councillors who voted it against it on April 23—Charlie Hodge, Mohini Singh, Maxine DeHart and Luke Stack—remained firm on Monday, indicating they either felt it didn’t fit into the city’s Pandosy plan or wanted more information, while the four who voted in favour—Basran along with councillors Loyal Wooldridge, Brad Sieben and Gail Given—did so again.
That left Donn to break the tie over the contentious issue, and it didn’t take him long to say he was for the plan.
“I really often vote for urban density. If I’m going to choose, that’s often the way I try to lean,” Donn said. “For me, this is actually quite a simple vote for me. It’ll be a yes vote in support of development, because at every point I’m trying to find ways how we can get more public into our urban centres versus the outer areas, which costs us more.”
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