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Letter: That 1,000-signature petition against a New West project didn't tell the whole story

Yes In New West defends this affordable housing project
823 to 841 Sixth Street
The Aboriginal Land Trust Society is proposing to build a 96-unit apartment building at 823 to 841 Sixth St, which would provide affordable housing for members of the Indigenous and Swahili communities.


Re: More than 1,000 residents sign petition opposing New West project, Record News

We are concerned that this story did not reflect the reality of the petition effort being led by a small group of Glenbrooke North residents.

As the thousands of people who received the petition through their mail slots can attest, the petition did not accurately reflect the proposed project, or the process the applicant is following in seeking approval from New West city council.
It seems an oversight on behalf of the petitioners to not mention the “development” is an affordable housing project being proposed by the non-profit Aboriginal Land Trust society, or that it will provide truly affordable housing to 96 families. How many of those 1,000 people would agree that housing affordability is a serious concern in our community, and that 96 family-friendly deeply affordable rental homes fills a vital need in our community?

We can be more generous to assume the petitioners were not familiar with municipal approval processes when they mischaracterized the application as a “potentially precedent-setting departure from the Official Community Plan.” Naturally, “respect the OCP” is a compelling rallying cry - who wouldn’t sign a form asking the city to respect a plan that so many in the community put such energy into developing only five years ago? However, by any fair assessment, this project is not a departure from that plan, but an honouring of it.

The OCP contains many policy statements supporting affordable and rental housing. Most notably, Policy 8.2c says the city will “partner with senior governments, charitable foundations, faith groups and non-profit organizations in the development of affordable and non-market housing.”

This project is a perfect example of what respect for that policy looks like. Were those 1,000 people made aware of this?

It is true that the proposed building is different from that envisioned in the land use map in the OCP. This is why the applicant is proposing an amendment of that map through the same transparent and public process used to amend the OCP for the Queen’s Park Heritage Conservation Area, or to allow childcare use in a church hall in the Moody Park neighbourhood, or to require electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new multi-family buildings, among other amendments over the last few years. There were no cries at the time to “respect the process” because amendments are part of the process. Respecting the OCP is acknowledging that it is a living document and, at times, technical amendments are needed to achieve the different goals - heritage conservation, child care, affordable housing, amongst others - that this community ambitiously set during those public meetings five years ago.

As a community, we define the OCP. It should empower us to achieve these goals, not prevent us from providing vital services like truly affordable housing in our community; in Glenbrooke North and in every neighbourhood. Yes, even in our backyard.

Ruby Campbell, Brad Cavanagh, Tammy Dewar, Mike Folka, Carly Fryer, Matt Lorenzi, Elliot Rossiter, Rohan Singh on behalf of Yes In New West