July 21st, 2024

Land Use Bylaw Renewal Project an opportunity to shape community, City planner tells SACPA

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on November 10, 2023.

Herald photo by Al Beeber City senior planner Ross Kilgour talks at SACPA Thursday about a project being undertaken to create a new land use bylaw.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The City of Lethbridge has launched a three-year project to create a new land use bylaw.

Ross Kilgour, senior planner and co-project lead along with Genesis Molesky of the Land Use Bylaw Renewal Project, spoke to the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs on Thursday about the bylaw work.

The bylaw, Kilgour told a small and attentive audience at the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization, has been tweaked over the years but has never undergone an extensive overhaul since it was created in 1986.

For the redesign of the LUB, the City has looked at what other communities in Alberta and across Canada have done. They include Alberta centres such as Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton and others including Kitchener and Toronto in Ontario.

On Wednesday between 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Casa, residents will be able to see draft recommendations. After receiving feedback, the City will make changes and take the recommendations to council at some point for a public hearing, likely next March, the audience was told.

In his presentation, Kilgour outlined the reasons for land use bylaws, the different zoning regulations that exist within the city and goals of the project, one of which is to reduce red tape and speed up the process of getting projects approved.

The audience heard that most uses in the city are considered discretionary in the various land use districts which range from Downtown Commercial to Low Density Flexible Residential and lastly Future Development.

In Downtown Commercial, for example, discretionary uses include drop-in centres, food banks, resource centres, shelters, supportive housing and soup kitchens.

Each district has its own discretionary uses which vary widely.

The only permitted use is Group Homes in Low Density Flexible Residential, a relatively new district and a use that has not been yet been used, Kilgour said.

Discretionary uses, he pointed out, are harder to approve,

Definitions for various uses vary from community to community from one extreme to the other. Beaumont, near Edmonton, for instance, uses the term ‘Human Services’ which covers all social services while others define ‘food banks’ differently, some “slicing and dicing” things into different definitions, Kilgour said.

How a land use bylaw is set up has numerous implications for a community, he said, including social, economic and environmental.

Right now the City, he said, has an opportunity to “take a step back and start from scratch.” This work was approved last November by city council in its 2023-26 budget deliberations.

Kigour said the project is an opportunity to rebuild the land use bylaw to shape the kind of communities in which Lethbridge residents want to live, visit and do business.

The project builds on work in the Municipal Development Plan, the Municipal Housing Strategy and by the Social Services Integration Group.

The project has eight goals which can be viewed on the city’s website at getinvolvedlethbridge.ca/lub where all information about the project is available, including its different phases.

The current document is about 300 pages and Kilgour said the City wants to create a new one that is more user friendly. It wants to simplify the application process for residents while also utilizing fewer City resources to help people unsure about the documents.

One question the City wants to answer with the LUB is how it can help ensure everyone has appropriate housing for their needs and options to access the social services they need.

So far, the City has gotten 832 online surveys taken, which Kilgour said in his experience is a high number, and has undertaken 11 pop-up events and held 14 organizational meetings, with two more planned.

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