Ste. Anne revisits its rezoning process

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A MAJOR VICTORY for the citizens of Ste. Anne’s. But the fight is far from over. Congratulations to everyone who helped sway our council on May 28th and at other times. From the Gazette.

Ste. Anne revisits its rezoning process
Plan for north sector to involve more public consultation
Albert Kramberger The Gazette Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ste. Anne de Bellevue is rebooting its consultation process to deal with zoning for an undeveloped 276-hectare area located north of Ste. Marie Road and just west of l’Anse à l’Orme nature reserve.

On Monday, council unanimously elected to revise its public consultation process, beginning with setting up a new committee with citizen members that will study scenarios and possible solutions to deal with the highly contentious issue of zoning for the north sector, where developers are looking to build single-family and high-density homes while some conservationists are demanding the forested area be preserved as eco-territory.

The revised policy calls for a minimum of two citizen information meetings to be held prior to the city holding a legally binding public consultation meeting to deal with a draft zoning law. The new consultation procedure is expected to take up to six months, with a draft projected to be made public next spring. Citizens hoping to become part of the working committee, which will meet Thursday nights on a regular basis starting next month, must fill out a form which will be available on the city’s website. If more people apply than the six required citizen members, those that have submitted applications will decide among themselves who will make the final cut, not council or the city’s administrative staff. The minutes from the committee meetings will also be posted online for the general public to keep track of any progress.

The city has taken this latest step in reaction to the emotional response to a 45-minute presentation made in May regarding a draft bylaw which had proposed mixed zoning, residential, commercial and some industrial, in the north sector that would have seen the town’s current population of 5,200 increase by another 4,500 residents. People had bemoaned the loss of green space, an increase in traffic as well as the impact the proposed development would have on the city’s tax coffers and services.

Mayor Francis Deroo said the modified consultation process comes as a result of the feedback obtained from the draft presentation in May.

“After the consultation, we heard what they told us, that we need to review that (urban plan) and we need to involve more citizens in it. That’s our job to do that. Public consultations are there exactly for that reason. If we have public consultations and we don’t listen, then we don’t follow the right path,” he said.

The mayor said the city is not backtracking on the issue, adding the revised consultation policy shows the city is moving forward.

Councillor Paola Hawa, who represents the north sector and had opposed the initial draft urban plan, said the city is now being more transparent with its revised consultation process.

“There was a good discussion among council and this is a positive step forward,” she said. “Basically, the residents got what they wanted which is an active voice at the table before the draft plan. It’s going to be a whole new plan. We are going back to scratch. The residents will be involved every step of the way.”

Hawa said the fact residents mobilized and made sure their voices were heard in May led to the revised consultation process.

Resident Lucie Marceau, a vocal opponent of the city’s development plans, said while she is relieved consultations are continuing, she still does not have much faith in council. She said council didn’t have a choice but to restart the consultation process since so many residents were unhappy with the first draft.

“That’s a big move they did. So far, so good,” she said of the revised consultation. “But my confidence is not there. They’ve taken so many stupid decisions before.”

Marceau added she will submit her name to become part of the new committee, though she would have liked to see even more citizens on it than what the city has decreed.