Over the past three years, I have consistently supported development in the District. In the face of considerable opposition, I voted in favour of the Maison seniors care facility. I think that the PARC facility and the Kiwanis apartments are valuable community assets. I have pushed for more residential units in Ambleside. I support, in principle, increased density at Park Royal. From the beginning, I have supported the careful and sensitive introduction of coach houses. I also believe there is room for a “string of pearls” along our waterfront. My voting record speaks for itself. I see all of these developments as fitting well into the community.
The single exception to my consistent support for development is the 1300 block project and this vote warrants an explanation. After carefully deliberating my position, I decided to vote against it. Ambleside desperately needs new investment. Much of the site is presently an empty field and an eyesore. There is no doubt that the Grosvenor development will be a dramatic and welcome improvement on the present situation. The reason I voted against the project is that I felt it was too massive, that it was too divisive and that it did not fit Ambleside or adhere to the present plan for Ambleside. I listened to the legitimate concerns of many in the community. I listened to the District’s own Design Review Committee. I supported Council’s initial direction to Grosvenor that the buildings should be lowered by 30 feet. I wanted Council to come up with a coherent plan for what Ambleside should look like in the future and for us to explain how this project would fit into the future Ambleside. My hope was that Grosvenor would bring the project back in a lower, less massive form and that it would go forward with much broader community support. This didn’t happen. Council voted in favour of the project. I respect that vote. Now, we need to move on and make sure the project is built to the highest standards and that the construction is not too disruptive. In the end, this development will clearly be a benefit.
Being supportive of development does not mean one must support every development. We can all agree that certain types of development would not be welcome in the community. Would anyone have seriously suggested a 30 story tower on the 1300 block? Likely not. So, the issue is where we should draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate development. Ultimately, this is Council’s job, after listening to the community. Reasonable people can differ reasonably on where the line should fall and voting against one project does not make a person anti-development. I support development. I support the right development.