Tuesday, August 24, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 34 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“I’ve decided with the coming election that I will not run for mayor again.”
- John Irwin  
- on deciding to run for   
council and not for mayor   
River Run developer proposes new, small project;
council says no
 
On Tuesday, August 17, council denied a rezoning to a Blairmore property that was proposed to be the site of a 24-unit affordable rental housing project, without allowing a public hearing on the proposal.
Bill Bradley, best known as the developer for the long-delayed, financially troubled River Run project, submitted an application to rezone the sales centre property, located next to the Blairmore Legion on the corner of 129th Street and 21st Avenue. The request was to rezone the property from retail commercial to direct control, and Bradley proposed to build 24 affordable rental housing units in a complex to be known as Ravenwood Place.
Bradley said in his application that he has received a letter of intent from a Canadian chartered bank toward the construction of the development, pending municipal approvals. In addition, he said, he would be able to access affordable housing grant money for the project. The rental units, he says, would be available for 10 percent below market value, which qualifies it as an affordable housing project and opens up access to such grants.
He cited the 2009 Affordable Housing Needs Assessment report, completed by a local committee, which shows the need for affordable housing in Crowsnest Pass. Bradley says that the project is completely unconnected to the River Run development.
Council, however, defeated the first reading of a rezoning bylaw, which means that the proposal will not come to public hearing.
"I have a problem with this rezoning," said Councillor Dean Ward. "I'm concerned about what's going to happen here."
He noted that the applicant was requesting that offsite levies be waived for the proposed project, to support the development of affordable housing. Council has previously waived said levies for certain projects, such as the Ironstone development.
Councillor Ward said that he had a problem with the request. "We can't afford to walk away from any dollars," he said.
Councillor Gary Taje, who made a motion to pass first reading, said that he felt council was prejudicing itself by making comments about a rezoning before a public hearing. He said that first reading has always been passed even if there are issues, and that council normally doesn't make a decision until after the public has had a chance to speak at a public hearing, which follows two weeks after a first reading.
 
A rule of thumb for municipal councils is that they should not take a position on land use zoning until after the general public has a say at a public hearing.
The motion to pass first reading was defeated by a 4-3 vote, Councillors Ward, Salus, MacLeod, and Cole opposed. No new application can be made for at least six months.
The applicant, Bill Bradley, expressed frustration with council's refusal to let the proposal go to a public hearing. He says that he has been part of many applications both as an applicant and as a planning administrator for the City of Calgary, and that he has never seen the denial of a request to rezone a property –– which is unconnected to an approval of the development itself.
Bradley says that he feels he has been denied the fair opportunity to conduct a planning process, and that the community has been denied the right to have any input into the process.
"I'm highly shocked and disappointed," he says. "It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. We haven't been given a fair chance, I think to the detriment of the community. Why would they kill a project for affordable housing?"
Bradley repeats that this project has nothing to do with River Run and that he believes it should be judged on its own merit. He says that he almost takes the denial personally.
With the denial, he says that the future of the sales centre property will have to be reconsidered.
Bradley also complains that he feels council's attitude is hurting private economic initiatives in the community, and that there is a negative malaise in local politics. He says that he feels council's denial is an insult to those who have worked on affordable housing planning in the community as well.
The concept behind the proposal, as outlined in the rezoning application, was to have two two-story buildings, each with six ground floor units and six second floor units. The ground floor units were to be constructed based on universal design concepts, making them ideal for seniors, said Bradley.
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