Another Citizen Win

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High-density zoning nixed by residents of Beaconsfield
Source: The Gazette

Enough Beaconsfield residents signed registers to thwart high-density zoning being proposed for three specific locations in the city.

Eligible residents signed three distinct registers last Thursday against proposals to permit up to three-storey development at Elm Plaza, the Portage Centre property on Elm Ave. and a former Esso station lot along Beaurepaire Dr. near St. Charles Blvd.

At this point, council must decide to either call a referendum or scuttle the proposed zoning amendments, which were part of a new bylaw concerning general land use and construction regulations within the city. Another lot targeted by the city for high-density — a gardening centre property on Beaurepaire Dr. — wasn’t subject to a public registry. This rezoning will proceed once council approves its new construction bylaw.

As for the registers, 246 signed for Elm Plaza (181 were required), 75 signed for the former Esso lot (44 were required) and 62 signed for the Portage property (47 were required).

There were enough signatures in all the registers to force the question of a referendum at the next council meeting, Monday, city clerk Helen Finn said, adding only the residents who were eligible to sign a register would then be able to participate in a hypothetical referendum.

It has been estimated a referendum could cost the city about $50,000, similar to the cost of a byelection, which was held this past spring.

Bolton Ave. resident Sharon Rempel said people living near Elm Plaza, who successfully rallied to block the rezoning, expect council to drop the items, adding residents would be very upset if tax dollars were wasted on a referendum.

“We did an incredible job. We needed 181 signatures and we got over 240 people to city hall, which was really a tremendous success,” she said. “People came together on this because we are all affected by it. We don’t want to see increased traffic. We don’t want a denser population.”

Rempel said citizens have made it clear they want council to maintain the current residential character within the city, and to keep a two-storey maximum for some areas.

“It was built as a residential area and we would hate to see (densification),” she added.

Although residents have seemingly won this battle, Rempel said they must remain vigilant for any possible future rezoning proposals.

Councillor Rhonda Massad, who objected publicly to the high-density rezoning for the areas covered by the registers, said residents have sent a message that council should drop the densification items.

“Throughout the process, the residents voiced their concerns repeatedly and begged council to slow down and take a breath,” she added.

The proposed zoning on the table for Elm Plaza heading into the register was to allow up to two storeys for a possible commercial/residential mix but only residential would be permitted on a third storey, all limited to strict setback rules, city officials said. Initially, the city had proposed four storeys for Elm Plaza, but then dropped it to three.