By Dave Loewen. The ACS Housing proposal has generated much discussion, but at the same time, there still appears to be a measure of cloudiness around two bylaws:
1. Bylaw No. 1699-2007 – Abbotsford East Downtown Business Improvement Area Bylaw (BIA), and
2. Bylaw No. 1150-2002 – The C7 Zoning Bylaw
The first relates to a Grant provided, by the City, to the ADBA for specific purposes related to the improvement of the Downtown area. This Grant is tied to the property taxes of member businesses, and is set as a 20-year agreement, which can only be set aside by mutual consent or by a violation of the terms by one of the two parties.
The second bylaw established a new commercial zone, which identifies a long list of “Permitted Uses”, which all other zones would have as well. The ACS Housing project (parts) does not fall within that list of Permitted Uses. Zoning of any kind and in any jurisdiction is subject to change at any time, due to demographic changes or growth, to name only two. Councils may not fetter the freedom of future Councils to make decisions regarding zoning. Such decisions would be regarded as illegal and unsupportable in a court challenge.
This then brings me to the crux of the ADBA’s position. The paramount argument made, by the ADBA, against a zoning variation to pave the way for the ACS proposal, is that to do so would threaten the integrity of the C7 Zone, which was implemented in 2002.
Firstly, I would point out that, contrary to what has been stated, there is no “agreement” or “commitment” to the C7 Zone, because such an agreement would illegally fetter subsequent Councils in their discretion.
My second point, perhaps, raises the most troublesome problem. Both the Executive Secretary, Tina Stewart, and another member of the ADBA Executive have indicated separately, to me and to Councillor Braun, that the City-owned property on the NW corner of Gladys and George Ferguson Way(Hazel St. on map) would be acceptable for this housing project. Reference to the attached map will show that this property not only resides within the C7-zoned boundary, but is actually in closer proximity to the hub of the Downtown shopping district. Why would this location not endanger the integrity of the C7 Zone when the other would?