Council made a good decision after Monday night’s public hearing over a property on Kinney Avenue.
But many of the councillors probably wouldn’t agree with that statement. At issue was whether the property should be rezoned and have its designation as a future park removed so the family that owned it could sell it.
Zoning regulations allow the cities to control what a property owner can build, or what can be built in areas of a city. That’s important — it prevents developers from putting up a 50-storey high rise in an area that is only suited for single-family homes.
But future land use designations, contained in the Official Community Plan, are another story. In this case, a future park designation significantly reduced the owner’s ability to sell the property for fair market value as a developable lot.
That changes the very nature of ownership. Instead of range of options to dispose of their land, property owners now find themselves with limited options: to sell to the city as park land, continue with its current use, or sell to another party for less than it might otherwise be worth.
Unless the city is prepared to purchase the land in a reasonably short time, care needs to be taken about maintaining such a designation. In this case, some councillors were prepared to maintain the park designation — already in place for 26 years — for an indefinite time, effectively taking control away from the current owners.
In this case, reason won out, narrowly, and council voted to remove the future park designation from the Kinney Avenue property, allowing the family that owns it to get on with making their own decisions about how best to use their property. So while some councillors may not appreciate it, we applaud council making a decision that protected not only the interests of the neighbourhood, but the property owners and the wider community.