Editorial: Just create some density

Editorial

Tuesday, August 28 2018

If we’re going to get any densities into the Density Bank, the Local Trust Committee should just create some.

That is, if the LTC (this one, the next one, any LTC) wants densities in the Density Bank, create them. Don’t try to use the Coats Marsh Regional Park rezoning to Park as a way to get them in there.

Yes, there’s a mechanism the LTC can use to have densities put into the density bank rather than extinguishing those densities when a property is downzoned from Residential to Park.

And when it comes to Gabriola politics, that has been the safe way of putting densities on hold to be used for future affordable housing development.

This round and round and round debate with the Regional District and Nature Trust over the Coats Marsh densities has been going on for years and through multiple Trustees and Regional Directors.

Densities have disappeared before on Gabriola, and will likely disappear again at a future date, with nary a person looking to try and get them donated to the density bank.

The density ‘cap’ is established by the Gabriola LTC.

The Gabriola LTC has the power, should it choose to exercise it, to create new densities on Gabriola.

Whether an LTC would choose to do so has always been a question of whether those Trustees had the political capital to do so, as density has always been (and will likely continue to be) a sacred issue. 

In the ten commandments of Gabriola, thou shalt not increase density has been for many years the most sacred.

Even a bridge could be discussed in less hushed tones.

The Trust, through the actions of past Trustees, is trying to justify putting densities into the density bank because they came from a specific park rezoning and would be lost for all time.

It’s also a justification to avoid creating new densities for the same purpose.

If Trustees are uncomfortable with creating new densities to put in to a density bank, perhaps a halfway route could be to direct staff to investigate how and where densities have disappeared through rezonings and development on Gabriola since the Gabriola density cap was established.

But given how costly that kind of staff time would be - we’re talking about digging through decades of development - perhaps it would be better, for taxpayers and for those housing proponents, to get on or off the pot, and create densities to be put into the bank. Put a caveat, covenant, red wax seal on that deposit saying it represents any and all densities which have disappeared into Gabriola’s past, and there will only be legit deposits made afterwards. Or not. 

Trust staff time, RDN staff time, Nature staff time, all that time wasted, not to mention the time wasted in moving onto an actual affordable housing development.