Low-density residential scrapped

·2 min read

The Town of Strathmore is abandoning its plans to create a consolidated low-density residential land use district, and will instead change planning approaches through totally new planning documents.

Under Strathmore’s current land use bylaw, there are four land districts for low density residential developments. Town administration previously presented a bylaw to consolidate these into one low-density district to council in 2020.

The change would allow developers to better react to changes in the housing market, according to town administration at the time.

The bylaw passed first reading on July 22, 2020. But prior to the Sept. 2, 2020 town council meeting, when a public hearing for the bylaw was to be held, council received a letter in opposition to the proposed bylaw, written by Werner Fischer, a former head of planning policy with the town. Then last fall, town administration told council the bylaw was no longer being pursued.

“The intentions were good, but staff believe there are just too many opportunities for risk and error when we base a new land use district off our old ones,” said Chuck Procter, the town’s development services manager, during the March 10 committee of the whole meeting.

The new district might have created more problems than it would solve, and would require tracking and maintenance of another district under the town’s policy, noted Procter. Also, developers would still need to apply for a new land use district.

The town could modify existing land use districts as needed, as a short term solution, said Procter. These modifications, often called district overlays or direction control, would be easier to manage until a new land use bylaw is in place, he added.

Instead of adding the consolidated district, administration is recommending the town work towards a new land use bylaw after the town’s municipal development plan is completed.

“Shortcomings in our current land use bylaw can be better addressed if we start fresh, rather than expand existing potentially flawed policy,” said Procter.

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times