A new clause that council felt could tie the hands of developers was actually meant to fast-track building projects, according to city staff.
The issue first appeared in a paragraph on last week’s council agenda under an application to redevelop the former Coastline Mazda property in Willow Point.
Orla Jensen was looking for council’s approval to redevelop his one- and two-storey dealership building into a mixed commercial, retail and office complex.
But council got tripped up over a paragraph in city staff’s recommendation, that gives the general manager of operations the authority, “to approve colour, signage and exterior illumination schemes that are consistent with the spirit and intent of the relevant development permit guidelines of the Sustainable Official Community Plan.”
Coun. Andy Adams wanted the paragraph removed.
“I felt that the part of getting into approving colour and signage and exterior illumination schemes was going a little bit too far as to what our role is in approving major development permits,” he said.
Adams was particularly concerned over a city staff report that said “the white colouring” Jensen was proposing to use on his building did not conform to the city guidelines.
“I’m struggling as to what’s the problem,” Adams said. “This is something new. We haven’t seen this on council before.”
The paragraph came up again minutes later in Seymour Pacific’s development permit application for its new five-storey building slated for intersection at Alder and St. Ann’s streets.
Ross Blackwell, the city’s land use manager, said after the meeting that the paragraph appeared on the agenda because not all the information pertaining to colour, materials, and lighting had been received by the city.
But Blackwell wanted to get the application in front of council so Jensen and Seymour Pacific could go ahead with their plans.
The city received the information it needed the day after the council meeting in Jensen’s case and for, Seymour Pacific, the information was presented during a delegation at the meeting.
Blackwell said colour, materials, and lighting fall under development permit guidelines in the Sustainable Community Plan, which was approved by the community.
In regard to colour, the plan states that because of the city’s West Coast climate, characterized by a cloudy winter season, a warm colour palette is encouraged over the use of cool colours.
“These are guidelines,” Blackwell said. “We’re not saying they’re required. They’re encouraged in order to convey the look and feel of what the community wants to see. We’re saying we prefer you to use this palette because the community has told us this is what they want.”
Coun. Ron Kerr supported keeping the colour clause in the development permit.
“Traditionally in this town we’ve set the bar very low architecturally,” he said. “I think this is a new opportunity, with the new (community plan) to maybe raise the standard a bit.”
Coun. Ryan Mennie sided with Kerr, and said he didn’t “see it as a restriction” but as an “extra element towards collaboration.”
Mayor Walter Jakeway didn’t like the clause and said he hopes to not see it again on the council agenda.
“I think it’s up to the architect to set the pattern,” he said. “It’s not up to the city to determine it. If we all wanted to be architects we should have taken architecture.”
In the end, council voted 4-3 to approve Jensen’s development permit with the clause intact.
Councillors Adams, Storry and Mayor Jakeway voted in opposition.