Salmon Arm  

Salmon Arm council votes against upholding 20-year-old decision to close part of 10 Ave SE

Closure won't be upheld

Salmon Arm councillors were divided on how to move forward after finding a mistake related to a decades-old road closure, but in the end, council decided against drafting a new closure bylaw for the small section of 10th Avenue SE.

Council first discussed the matter at a Feb. 14 meeting, but decided to defer making its decision until Monday in order to have all seven council members present to vote.

The issue stems from a mistake made by a previous council in the year 2000. At that time, council decided to close a small section of 10th Avenue SE where it connected to 11th Avenue SE at the request of local property owners.

However, after the decision was made, the bylaw was not completed properly. This type of bylaw needs to be approved by the provincial ministry of transportation, and that never happened.

A developer is currently planning to subdivide a property into four lots adjacent to 10 Avenue SE, and would like to have that section of the road reopened in order to provide access to the new lots. Currently the section of road is overgrown and impassible for traffic.

Coun. Kevin Flynn said he is taking a practical view of the matter.

“In my mind, especially in today's environment of concerns about wildfire, what should trump anything, even if the process was flawed or wasn't completed, is our rules around current length of cul-de-sacs and having two accesses to developments,” Flynn said.

“I understand the process piece, but from a common sense, logical point of view, you wouldn't have even been able to build 11th Avenue SE right now — and to have 10th Avenue open is a positive thing.”

Bylaw approach more 'fulsome'?

Coun. Tim Lavery argued following through on preparing a new road closure bylaw would allow for proper community consultation.

“There was a vote to close that, and it wasn't followed through with,” Lavery said. “I would argue that we need to proceed with doing this again."

He said the process would fulfill "the city's responsibility for a fulsome process, no matter what happens."

"I'm not presupposing what the outcome would be of a new road closure bylaw, but I believe that we have got to take the fulsome process approach for this neighborhood," Lavery said.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren also expressed the importance of honouring the previous council’s decision.

“We have a commitment that's been made by the previous council, and we have a responsibility to complete that process, whatever that looks like,” Lindgren said. “And I think that this motion would give us an opportunity to do that.”

If the motion to have staff prepare a new road closure bylaw had passed, the bylaw would have gone before council for a first reading. Residents adjacent to the road would be informed and would have the opportunity to comment on the decision, however there wouldn't be a full public hearing.

If that new bylaw then passed first and second reading at council, it would be sent to the ministry of transportation and infrastructure for final approval.

Lindgren said even though the province is unlikely to approve the bylaw, it is still the correct decision to move forward with the process.

“Especially in light of densification now and the new zoning amendments that we're required to make, it's conceivable that the province would just deny it, and we would be back where we are today,” Lindgren said. “I think it's really important that we get a definitive answer, and I realize that it's going to cost a little money and take some staff time.

“Sometimes honesty and integrity is hard work. But that's what we owe ourselves on this particular decision.”

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond argued there is also integrity in being practical.

“I think there's also integrity and honesty in being expeditious and honest and realizing the situation in which we find ourselves,” Wallace Richmond said. “I want this subdivided, I think it's perfect infill and for those reasons, I will vote against the motion.”

Councillors lauded for respectful debate

The motion to have staff prepare a new road closure bylaw was defeated 3-4, with Coun. Debbie Cannon, Coun. David Gonella, Flynn and Wallace Richmond voting in opposition.

After the vote, Mayor Alan Harrison thanked council for being able to remain respectful despite having opposing views on the matter.

“One thing I really like about this group, you are able to discuss and debate with respect. Thank you very much for that,” Harrison said.

More Salmon Arm News