Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ignoring Advice We've Paid For

As Council, we ask administration for advice and information.  We're not the experts (although some members of council might disagree with that) - our job is to take the advice and information and use it to help guide our decision making.  One of the areas in which some city staff have more expertise than council is community planning.  A community plan should be used to provide direction to help ensure that the ways in which a community grows are attractive, efficient and effective.

We currently have a community plan that's still in draft stage - that is, it hasn't been formally approved.  But some good thinking and common sense has gone into it, and I often wonder why we don't consider the advice available, even in draft form, when we make some of our decisions.

For example, at the last two council meetings we have approved high density developments - new condos.  The draft community plan recommends that such higher density developments should be built along major arterial routes, with consideration for amenities such as parks and bus routes.  The logic is that such amenities shouldn't be thought of after the development has been made, but as part of the planning process.

The two developments that council approved, one at each meeting, haven't considered this advice.  Both are in the far east end of the city - one on 1st Street East, the other east on Highway 302.

When new developments are built without consideration for currently available amenities, they will also cost the city more, because additional pressures are put on city services.  Snow removal, garbage pick-up, fire protection services, bus route extensions - when these have to be extended into new areas, it costs the city more.

I'm not against new developments.  I understand that they increase the tax base, which we sorely need.  But I think that if we have advice on how to make them more economical, so that we're not just at a break even (or worse) situation, but might actually have revenues increase faster than expenses, then we should follow that advice.  After all, we've paid for it.

"There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions.  Nothing pains some people more than having to think." - Martin Luther King Jr.

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