We attended a recent Public Information meeting for a proposed business / hotel development at 19881 86 Ave et al. We attended on behalf of the Willoughby Residents Association (WRA) because we saw in their proposal they were asking for a reduction in parking as a variance. Believe it or not, that area is already full on many surrounding streets. Semis and cars alike fill this area in the daytime, often parked illegally during peak times. We assume they are from the industrial and commercial ventures that are already existing. To reduce parking would be a major mistake. A young woman at the meeting invited us to “ask any of us” and a gentleman came up and said “can I answer your questions”. Our discussion was brief because he said quickly “Oh that’s not my department, you need to go over there” and pointed me elsewhere, where my partner was. Okay, not an auspicious start. And the people to whom I was directed were stunned when I pointed out their own picture had parked cars in it. They countered with how they would be sure to have strict parking enforcement so those currently parking on the street wouldn’t be parking in their new commercial area.
But as we read the boards further, we noted it said “Connections made to existing bicycle networks….”. We pointed out that that meant there would be no connection, since that area has no existing bicycle network. The person who came up to be helpful and answer our question said “oh yes, they are here on paper and we’ll connect with them on paper”. I hope you read that with the same stunned silence I had at first, before I tried to point out the reality of disjointed paths that simply stop and go nowhere is not, by definition, a network. How can they hope to connect to a network that isn’t there? I got three sentences in as I attempted to explain the meaning of “existing” and “network” before my partner realized my futility and moved me along.
And that put me in front of the tree board. I asked, yet another helpful host, if they were being affected by the new tree bylaw. “Oh, that doesn’t apply to us, we’re developers”. And that’s when we left. The trees that are in “poor health” are noted to be 344/401 trees.
I would query, then, that if bicycle paths only have to exist on paper, then isn’t it possible that 344 trees are only sick on paper and thus in the real world, are actually worth saving?
All in all, this project deserves another look by council and not a rubber stamp as so many things seem to be manufactured on paper, with little bearing on reality.