Letters to the editor can be sent to newsroom@saobserver.net. (File photo)

Letters to the editor can be sent to newsroom@saobserver.net. (File photo)

Letter: Concerns over ‘ad hoc’ densification prompt questions to Salmon Arm candidates

As the city election approaches, I have questions for candidates on planning transparency. They arise from the rezoning of a 1.5-acre property in North Broadview for eight houses with secondary suites.

1. The city promotes densification as the population grows. Densification appears ad hoc, as developers acquire lands – without attention to neighborhood, parks and green space needs. Does it have a densification vision, plan or implementation strategy?

2. City planning is driven by a decades-old Official Community Plan (OCP) which arguably preserves urban forests, creates community parks and greenways, and addresses climate change. Many OCP safeguards are optional or unenforced (e.g., building site clear cutting). During an OCP review, will candidates support stronger and enforced environmental standards?

3. Densification aims to provide inexpensive student and lower income accommodation. What will be done to provide residences for out-of-town students attending college, and to increase reduce student housing?

4. City planning is opaque. The 154-page OCP is available online. Only one hard copy is available at the public library. Undisclosed “Pre-plans” throughout Salmon Arm are used to justify city access roads on private lands when they are subdivided or sold to developers. Are “Pre-plans” public? Are they blue-sky ideas, or do they have council authority?

5. Rezoning applications may contain Trojan horses. North Broadview discovered the city is pressing for half an access road through a newly rezoned property, based on an old “Pre-plan.” The attached engineering report on roads states land “will come from the adjacent property” to form the second half of the municipal road when the neighboring land is sold or subdivided. Are candidates aware of such embedded reports and how they affect neighborhood development?

6. Are candidates aware of Bill 26 which allows delegation of more council decision-making powers to city development and planning staff? A decision on how these delegated powers was postponed until after the election, for successful candidates to address.

John Crook

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