Penticton council has given unanimous first-reading approval for a proposal to effect a wholesale reworking of the city’s zoning bylaws.
The plan, drafted by consultant David Widdis, is expected to have several adjustments made to it before it is adopted and implemented Sept. 1. The city will hold a public hearing on the matter on June 20 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
Widdis said despite the various piecemeal adjustments made throughout the years, the 24-year old document requires a major update to co-ordinate its “regulatory framework” and address inconsistencies and regulation issues.
Consulting city staff, the development community and the public throughout the drafting process, Widdis said he tried to make the city’s zoning easier to navigate for both novice and advanced users.
“The planning staff have completed several in-depth reviews on the document as well as compared development applications between the new and old zoning bylaws to ensure the majority of issues can be addressed prior to implementation,” he said.
Key changes, Widdis said, will include adjustments to the document’s format, general regulations, definitions and zoning categories.
“The intent is to ensure easier use of the document by both practitioners and the public,” reported Widdis. “Graphic illustrations and tables have been introduced to help explain regulations. The bylaw contains definitions and updated terminology to common words and phrases, and wherever possible applies plainer, more widely understood wording.
A number of zones have been consolidated, or deleted all together, reducing the number of categories, he said.
“The number of permitted uses will be expanded and other uses will be consolidated to create general uses, such as offices, to be flexible with the current trends in the community,” Widdis said. “Basic terms have been defined and the expanded section helps to minimize the variety of interpretations faced by staff.”
Mayor Dan Ashton said the adjustments are a long time coming.
“The last time it was redone was 24 years ago. Well, a lot has happened in 24 years,” said Ashton. “Look at the changes that have happened just in the last year. There are all kinds of things that have taken place and when you have a document that is that old, you need input and refurbishment.”
The mayor said the changes are consistent with council’s commitment to make the city’s services more efficient, effective and user-friendly not just for the business and development community but all residents, from those who want to get a licence for their dogs to those who want to build a carriage house for their children or parents.
“I think this will address many issues that a lot of people have been facing in Penticton,” he said.