Breaking News

Land Use Bylaw amendments spark debate

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

A handful of local residents voiced both their concerns and support regarding amendments being made to land use bylaw 1088-11 during the public hearing on Jan. 21.

The amendments were given second reading during the regular council meeting but third reading was postponed until the council meeting on Feb. 18 to allow council time to understand the amendments.

The changes would rezone four residential districts allowing family care facilities, and senior residential care facilities to apply for a permit.

Care facilities were part of existing land use bylaws, but the use of them was missed in certain districts, explained Lorraine Walker, manager of planning and development. 

Family care facilities include many different uses such as foster or boarding homes for children, group homes, and family homes, as defined in the Bylaw.

Senior residential care facilities would be an addition to the bylaw.

“As a community that endorses inclusivity and ensuring there’s a place for everyone in the community, I believe these care facilities are important whether they’re family or senior care and they should be addressed by bylaw,” said Coun. Albert Ostashek.

The amendments would also change the definition of places of worship to places of assembly in another four districts.

Developers would still have to apply for a development permit as these uses are defined in the bylaw as discretionary. 

A permit process would follow the application with a chance for residents and anybody affected by the discretionary use to appeal, explained Peter Vana, director of development services.

This process would be advertised and the appeal process would be outlined for residents in the advertisements. 

A resident in one of the zones, Tracy Shepard, stepped forward to ask for some clarification on how many lots would be allowed to turn into a group home.

Walker explained that according to the bylaw, 300 metres is required between the care facilities.

Vana also stated that if a home is permitted for a certain use and wants to change its use, it would have to reapply for a new permit with a new permit process and chance to appeal.

Protective services manager, Todd Martens spoke to another concern regarding neighbourhood maintenance, he said bylaw officers treat nuisance complaints for group homes in the same manner as they do any other residence.

Another resident, Rhonda Duke,  voiced her concern about a group home that could potentially be developed across from her home.

In a letter Duke addressed to council in Sept. 2019, she noted a few reasons she was opposed to the changes included increased traffic, increased parking, unknown history of occupants, increased concern for property, increased noise, and devaluing of current residences.

During the meeting she expressed concern that once amendments are approved it would become easier to push through development of these types of facilities anywhere in town.

Mandy Crespeigne, who works for the Hinton Employment and Learning Place (HELP) and studies social work, stepped forward in support of the amendments. 

“My focus is serving the most vulnerable members of the community. With that in mind this is something I’ve been kind of standing on my soap box about, the lack of these services in Hinton, for many years. Any opportunity to support these individuals that are highly underserved in Hinton I think needs to be looked at with due care,” she said.

Mary Saspa also spoke in favour of the amendments. Saspa resides in Calgary but owns a home in Hinton, which she hopes to  turn into a group home. She voiced her concern over the lack of available living space for seniors and people with disabilities in Hinton.

Land use bylaw 1088-11 will come back to the regular council meeting on Feb. 18 to allow questions from council to admin be answered.