In their recent letters, Dr. Brown and Mr. Harris put forward some very outdated and muddled thinking on land use planning.
Firstly, there is no such thing as vacant land, as so well emphasized in the letter by Meg Lainson. For much of our land, the highest and best use is in forests, fields, hedgerows, estuaries and open space. The Regional Growth Strategy and municipal Official Community Plans strive to ensure these landscape values exist in a suitable balance and proportion.
Secondly, Dr. Brown is correct in highlighting the exorbitant cost of farmland. What he fails to recognize is land speculation for development and unwarranted ALR farmland removal is a major factor in that high cost.
Lastly, as he suggests, it is indeed “possible for healthy residential development to occur provided it follows appropriate rules and guidelines.” Wonderful! And that is just what many informed and forward-looking residents are advocating.
However, almost all of the current development applications fall well outside of the appropriate rules and guidelines. And therein lies the problem; willy-nilly spot rezoning undermines the valuable community designs encouraged in the regional and local-scale planning processes.
Before rushing to congratulate Mr. Vantreight, Dr. Brown should appreciate that his proposal was also well outside the appropriate rules and guidelines and hence the ensuing furor.
The rules and guidelines are not intended to delay development, but exist to ensure that it is orderly, co-ordinated and an appropriate fit with other land uses. Haste is the enemy of a well-planned community that serves all residents suitably.
Mr. Harris speaks of courage.
However, in my opinion, by hand-carrying their developer friends around all the assessment points to a speedy arrival at the finish line, while thumbing their noses at the established protocols, some councillors demonstrate more impudence than courage.