Parkland / Greenspace Review

August 21, 2021

The Mt. Hope/Breithaupt Park Development Committee (your neighbours who are tracking development issues on your behalf) have given feedback over the past year or so that the City needs to spend more time and money on creating parks and greenspace in the downtown core.  We, and all other neighbourhoods adjacent to the downtown/LRT, continue to see increased density in our neighbourhoods (25 plus storey apartments and condos) but are not seeing any benefits to our neighbourhoods as a trade-off for this increased density.   And, in most instances, the new 25 plus storey condos/apartments have no greenspace/parkland attached to the development.

Not to get too complicated about the issue … the Province (through Bill 197) and the City (through their development policy)  charge developers who are building in the City (actually anywhere in the City) a “development charge” which is known in the industry as “cash in lieu of parkland” when they are building a building but not providing any greenspace.   Generally what this means is the City charges the developer a fee which they collect and generally add to the parkland pool and historically used these dollars  to build city parks in other areas of the city.

Developers in the immediate downtown core, known as the Urban Growth Centre have been exempt from paying the additional surcharge for parkland as part of the decision Council made years ago to eliminate development fees for developers building downtown.  (google Urban Growth Centre if you want to know the area).  The City has now eliminated this “development fee holiday” and charges developers development fees.   However, the Cash in Lieu of parkland fee continues to be waived for buildings in the downtown UGC.   Midtown/Mt Hope/Breithaupt Park developers have not had the benefit of bypassing the additional parkland fee because we are outside the UGC … so, developers like Google, Station Park and the Midtown Lofts would have paid the parkland fee (in lieu of providing parkland).

The good news is that Council and City parkland staff have realized there may be some inequities in the policy, that the resident versus parkland ratio has decreased (more people/less parkland) and that downtown neighbourhoods should be benefitting from the development in Downtown.  Parks and Cemeteries have developed a high level plan, for Council’s approval, and will be presenting an overview of the plan at a special Council meeting Monday afternoon.  The plan is in its initial stage and is not yet at the point where citizen input is required but if you have the time and are interested in seeing an overview of the proposed plan, tune into the Special Council meeting this Monday, August 23rd at 12:30 pm.

The agenda for the Special Council meeting scheduled for Monday August 23, 2021 is now available online on our Council/Committee Meeting Calendar.

Please use the following link to view:

Special Council Agenda LINK

We live in Ward 10 but Ward 9 is also significantly affected by these policies – mostly driven by the Province and the Region and then ultimately by the City (as a greater portion of our neighbourhoods are within 800 metres of a transit stop),  We have seen unprecedent development in both Wards and we need to need to support Councillors Marsh and Chapman as this new policy, which directly affects our neighbourhood, goes to Council for review. We need to support our Councillors efforts to increase greenspace in both Wards rather than redirecting downtown development dollars outside the core. Increasing greenspace in the downtown core will be a lengthly processes but the initial plan submitted for Council review is the first step.

Personally I am pleased to see the City take the initiative to review our greenspace needs as a “green city” and the climate crisis.