The city’s controversial downtown redevelopment CD-21 zone has lived to see another day.
Kelowna city council voted this afternoon to grant the bylaw enacting the zone an extension of up to six months.
The bylaw received third reading Oct. 27, 2008, less than a month before the last election, which saw four new faces elected to council, some of whom have expressed reservations about the plan.
Before council can give the bylaw fourth and final reading, it has to be approved by the Ministry of Transportation, which has jurisdiction because of how the plan could potentially affect traffic flows on and off Highway 97.
Bylaws which do not receive final approval within a year of third reading automatically expire if they are not granted an extension.
City clerk Stephen Fleming, told council that ministry staff have completed their review of the bylaw and forwarded it onto their legal council. Approval could be granted within weeks.
Coun. Charlie Hodge was the only councillor to vote against the extension, saying he did not want the ministry to drag its heels for another six months.
“We’ve sat here for a year unable to discuss any of this and you know, I really have a problem delaying this any longer,” he said during deliberations. “Quite frankly, I’m fed up.”
Mayor Sharon Shepherd noted that delays in enacting a bylaw happen from time to time, especially with an issue as complex as this one and that in the past council pretty much always grants an extension.
Coun. Luke Stack said it’s important for council to hear back from the ministry.
“My thinking is whether someone supports or doesn’t support the rezoning of the downtown to the CD-21 it would certainly be in the city’s best interest to get the feedback from the Ministry of Transportation as to what their thinking is because one way or another we are going to see redevelopment in downtown,” he said. “And I think if they’ve spent a year going through everything and putting together their case for how downtown is going to interface with the highway, I would certainly want to see the outcome of that report.”
Hodge and Stack are two of the new councillors who did not get to vote when the bylaw received its first three readings, but who will get a vote when it comes up for final reading.
The problem for those councillors is that fourth reading is generally just a yes or no vote. Their ability to debate the bylaw is limited as information brought forward since the bylaw went to a public hearing over a year ago cannot be considered.
Of the four remaining members of council who did vote at third reading, Mayor Sharon Shepherd and Couns. Michele Rule and Robert Hobson voted against it, while Coun. Andre Blanleil voted in favour.
The CD-21 zone will be in front of council as soon as the ministry gives its approval. If that happens before whoever wins the by-election at the end of November is sworn in and the old councillors vote the same way as they did at third reading, it will take all four new councillors to vote in favour for it to pass.
At that time, council will also have the option of rescinding second and third reading, which would allow councillors to reopen the debate and amend the plan. However that would also require the plan go to a new public hearing.
The CD-21 zone is an extensive redevelopment plan for the downtown area bounded by Highway 97, Abbott Street, Water Street and Queensway. It would include parks, sidewalk shops and cafes, as well as several high-rises, planned for as tall as 27 storeys.
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