City won't appeal Haldi Road ruling
A judge overruling city council after it rezoned the Haldi Road school so a women’s treatment centre could utilize the facility has been a learning experience both for staff and councillors, according to Coun. Cameron Stolz.
“When the rezoning for Haldi Road came before us, and during the public hearing stage, the proponents brought in a speaker for them, their solicitor,” Stolz said. “At that time he mentioned concerns he had that the rezoning was incongruent with the official community plan (OCP).”
Stolz said Dan Milburn, who was the city’s director, planning and development at the time, and who teaches at the university, disagreed and recommended city council proceed with the rezoning. However, the proponents took the issue before a judge who ruled in their favour.
“So the rezoning was rendered null and void, so it goes back to original zoning,” Stolz said. “For anything to happen at this stage, it would require for the proponent to bring this back to the city, and the OCP would have to be amended at the same time as the school is rezoned. Now we have to wait to see what the proponents want to do, whether they want to find a new location, or proceed with this.”
Stolz said the issue did not result from bad advice from staff.
“It was not bad advice. The staff are professionals who gave advice based on their experience and history. This was a groundbreaking ruling by the judge. This exact manner of the OCP being challenged in court like this is one of the first, and as such staff was giving advice to their best available knowledge.”
However, he said, it is a learning experience.
“It is very much a learning experience. Now we have clear direction on how this should be handled. Some of the judge’s comments in his decision included the wording of the OCP. I would suspect staff is going through the new OCP, which we just adopted this year, and are checking it to see if there’s any incongruities there.”
The proponents of the Haldi Road women’s treatment centre, have not yet decided on how they will proceed.
Dr. Michelle Sutter, spokesperson for the board of directors, said they will have to meet and make a decision on what they will do next.
“We understand the decision has been handed down. It was a legal and technical review between the city and a resident.
“We were not party to the case, and have not yet reviewed the decision. We do have to view the judgment, have a meeting and decide what we are going to do,” she said.