June 23rd, 2024

Lethbridge Housing Authority bylaw public hearings cancelled


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on January 25, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Two public hearings into land use bylaw amendments for the Castle Apartments and Halmrast Manor were cancelled Tuesday afternoon.

And city councillor Rajko Dodic made clear he didn’t think City administration should have recommended approval of the amendments before December hearings were staged because council has to go into hearings with an open mind.

The public hearings into Bylaws 6390 and 6391 were slated to continue Tuesday with second and third readings which were both defeated by 0-9 margins.

Council unanimously accepted a letter from Lethbridge Housing Authority to rescind applications to change classification of the Castle Apartments and Halmrast Manor properties to Direct Control.

The letter from LHA chief administrative officer Robin James said application will be made for a development permit under its downtown commercial zoning for the discretionary use of Supportive Housing Restricted. This will allow LHA to operate only a maximum of 25 units of supportive housing at each location.

Councillor Rajko Dodic said in discussion before a vote was made on the second reading of Bylaw 6390 that while council has to go into public hearings with an open mind, that apparently doesn’t apply to City administration which had provided reports recommending approval of the amendments.

Dodic said about 20 people and organizations spoke at December’s hearing on the Bylaw 6390 amendment and he wanted to make sure they knew they were being heard.

He said he had a concern with the manner in which the public hearing was provided to council “in the sense that when council receives a public hearing report, it often has recommendations to it.”

At public hearings council has to listen with an open mind to “everyone that wishes to speak, whether for or against it, as we did in this case and had so many people speak very well against it including a resident” of the Castle Apartments, Dodic said.

“Administration apparently are not bound by the same rules that we are bound by which is that we were supposed to keep an open mind and ensure that we made no decision and that our decision was based solely on the information provided to us by the folks that were either presenting or speaking for or against it.

“When we received the public hearing report from administration, it quite clearly says that they were supporting the amendment of the land use bylaw and recommending that three readings be given of 6390. So clearly that creates a little bit of angst in my mind because we as council are supposed to keep an open mind; administration in a case like this does not keep an open mind. And I would suggest in cases like this where it’s clearly going to be a contentious issue that we simply be provided, as they used to say on Dragnet, ‘the facts, just the facts’ and that’s not what we got here,” said Dodic.

He added council saw all the positives and pluses and while he appreciates what LHA was trying to achieve, council had to listen to businesses and others that would be potentially impacted by the amendments.

“When you look at the implications and what the financial implications are and things of that nature, it really seems that the businesses and the folks that were going to be directly and indirectly impacted by this didn’t really have a say in the report itself,” Dodic added.

He said if a development officer approves an application for discretionary use, opponents can appeal to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board to air their concerns. When council makes a decision on Direct Control, that opportunity isn’t available to them, Dodic added.

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buckwheat

From counsellor Dodic’s words it appears that at least he has caught on to the game of who is running the show. Administration thinks they are and he kindly informed them that they are not!!!! Good work Rajko. The rest of the elected need to get on board.

JustObserving

Sadly Admin. simply filled a power vacuum left by consecutive Councils unable or unwilling to take the leadership role. Admin. could run the show as Councils come and go but Admin. remains pensionable and secure. It is indeed good to see someone who [a] READS what reports are given , [b] CHALLENGES some of the assertions made and thier method of presentation and [c] CLARIFIES what is appropriate and what role is to be played by each cog in the wheel.
One of our first term Council members opined a while back that he “bought” an Admin. submission beacuse ” they knew what they were doing”. You bet they did !

Montreal13

How long has Lethbridge had an elected council to supposedly represent the citizens? These concerns are just being addressed by council now? The old tricks will return once one or maybe two councilors retire or probably next public hearing? Most councilors didn’t get what Dodic was saying and never will.

Montreal13

“A power vacuum left” by conservative councilors? Or maybe not supported by the Socialist councilors?
Many or most councilors are and some appear anyway of being way over their head in their abilities to represent electors. Too many of them keep getting reelected by their friends.

Montreal13

Sadly not going to happen.