It makes sense to do one or the other, but not both.
Last week, civic politicians gave the green light to the Century Group to redevelop the old Southpointe Academy site on 56th Street in Tsawwassen. What's being called Northgate, the development will include townhouses, an office building and seniors' congregate care.
It's definitely a nice looking project, so much so the majority of Delta council members believe it would make a good addition to the entrance to the community. I certainly don't take issue with that point of view, but I'm having a hard time reconciling its approval in relation to the Tsawwassen Area Plan.
You see, the area plan doesn't permit six-storey buildings in that location.
By no means am I against the development, but I wonder why we spend significant amounts of tax dollars, and a whole bunch of people's time, to develop area plans if we're not going to follow them.
I recognize, as the mayor has said on many occasions, that area plans are living documents, ones that can be amended pretty much as soon as they're finalized.
Property owners are within their right to come forward with an application whenever the mood strikes, and if it makes sense to council members, the proposal can receive approval even if it doesn't conform.
I get that area plans are fluid, but given that's the case, then why do we take such pains to nail down every last detail when we're preparing them?
It seems like a colossal waste of time and money to do so if projects are ultimately going to be judged on a case-by case basis anyway.
The last attempt to compile an area plan in Tsawwassen saw a volunteer committee spend a considerable amount of time trying to establish acceptable land use guidelines. That was followed by, or interspersed with, public meetings, mail-out and online surveys, and eventually some hotly-contested public hearings.
The process was contentious from start to finish, complete with several revisions, but in the end, which was just last year, a plan was approved, one that was, ironically enough, strikingly similar to its predecessor crafted 20 years earlier.
It seems to me that we either go all in with the area plan, and follow it to the letter, or we scale back those planning efforts (not eliminate them entirely but dial back on the detail) and judge applications as they're received (which is happening anyway).
Doing both not only doesn't work, but it creates a costly, wasteful situation.