Intrusion into park looms over ferry marshalling plan
Should council allow certain ferry marshalling ideas - such as development of the north side of Government Road - to be presented to the public for debate if there's the likelihood that council will likely vote against those ideas anyway?
That question from Councillor Nerys Poole was the springboard for a lively debate at Monday's council meeting.
Councillors had been presented with four ferry marshalling concepts by consulting planner James Tuer. These four concepts were winnowed down versions of the eight concepts presented to council in October. Nearly all aspects from all eight concepts were mixed and matched into four new potential plans which now have to be worked out in detail.
Three of those concepts include the potential for development the north side of the road. Poole, who has repeatedly said she'd vote against development in those parklands, felt that the concepts were skewed in favour of intruding into the park. One concept has an intrusion of 80 feet.
"If the majority of council does not support the 80 feet, why are we putting it on the table," she asked.
But are all councilors against an 80-foot intrusion?
"I think we should be cautious about providing excessive council guidance," said Mayor Bob Turner. The municipality has an excellent planning staff that's come up with "two remarkable documents" of concept plans. "I'd be cautious about putting steerage on a process that's unfolding.... The goal is to put all these plans on the table and let the public speak to all of them."
Tuer spoke against putting too many restrictions on the concepts before they were presented to the public for comment.
"I think if you go that route it's treacherous and has a chance of derailing the process," he said. "To have a good outcome you need a good process." He'd prefer that the options as presented be allowed to go forward "rather than micromanage us as to what you want to see right now."
"I agree with James," said Councillor Cro Lucas. "We wanted all eight options to be brought forward [in some form as part of the four final options] and they're all there. We should be looking at everything."
Councillor David Wrinch, who had his hopes for a loop road linking Cardena and Miller Roads turned down by council at the start of the process, said, "Nerys does have a good point. If as a group we don't want any incursion [into the north side] it's only fair to tell planners that it's something we feel strongly about. They may spend a lot of time drawing up plans we're not in favour of."
Mayor Turner asked councillors whether their objections are so clear that they won't be swayed by public input. Is there a chance that councillors will change their minds based on the public's feelings about concepts?
Poole said that she was prepared that night to say that she will not vote in favour of any 80-foot incursion into the park but she may consider a 30-foot incursion. "We're talking about the optics of the Cove and how some of us see it." She said that when you arrive in Snug Cove, the forest gives a favourable first impression.
Councillor Alison Morse thought 80 feet wasn't enough.
Councillor Peter Frinton said, "to me it's not a yes or a no. My preference is that the intrusion is not that much and I think we can achieve what we want [with less than 80 feet] but I wouldn't say no we couldn't do it. I want to see as little intrusion as possible but I'm not willing to put a number on it."
He'd rather have a mass of new buildings on the south side of the road.
Turner asked council for an informal vote - would they vote against an 80-foot intrusion into the park? Councillors Frinton, Poole and Doug Hooper raised their arms. "I'm with the mayor but I want more options," Hooper said. Councillors Lucas, Morse and Wrinton kept their arms down.
Tuer said it's too early to gauge what type of incursion there might be into the park. "Some people would agree to buildings but be against asphalt. It's premature to micro manage us. I say that for your protection; it will come back to haunt you."
He also reminded council that all the concepts include a buffer around identified heron nesting sites behind the library. Wrinch noted that while the options show development, that development could take a decade to materialize. However, when Wrinch tried to reintroduce a debate over "will we decide our whole future because there's a bird in a tree," Turner cut him short, noting that was a topic council had previously voted on.
Turner said that given the split on council about incursion into the north side, it might be prudent for Tuer to have two of the four options limit development in the park.
Earlier in the meeting, Tuer had said that his approach to the concepts was not linear, first one part of the concept, then another, then another. "It works better as a whole," he said. "Let [director of planning Hap Stelling] and I doodle out what the concepts will look like graphically so we can see how it all works together."
"I get your point about holistic design but I think we can ask 'is this element strong enough in and of itself'," Hooper said. He had previously sent 12 talking points to Tuer, which Tuer incorporated into his presentation.
"The emphasis could be on one element but we'd have a way of marrying them together," Tuer said.
Frinton said that nine years ago, council tried to deal with ferry marshalling. "Where we got stuck the last time is we got a set of transportation design concepts with little concern for anything else. Since then we've tried to narrow it down. How do we know we're going forward rather than in circles? What are the decision points?"
The goal is to accept a plan; the question is how to get to that point.
There were concerns that Tuer wouldn't be able to finish the work in his proposed timeframe. He's allowing for eight weeks of creating all documents for the four concepts, including meeting with BC Ferries and having a four-hour working session with council, and then four weeks for public input, include two open houses. Tuer said he believed the schedule was possible.
His proposed fee is $25,000 plus $3,800 for the production of the report and posters.
Council agreed to go ahead with his plan.