The City of Armstrong approved the rezoning of a parcel of land near the Nor-Val Arena from park and open space to residential medium density Jan. 25, 2021. (Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star)

The City of Armstrong approved the rezoning of a parcel of land near the Nor-Val Arena from park and open space to residential medium density Jan. 25, 2021. (Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star)

Rezoning of Armstrong land done by the book: city staff

City planner says councillor questioning legality indicative of confusion or lack of confidence in staff

A petition with nearly 200 signees questioning the legality of the City of Armstrong’s decision to rezone a plot of land near the Nor-Val Arena wouldn’t stand in court, according to a city report.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of rezoning the city-owned parcel on Adair Street at the rear of Memorial Park Jan. 25, following two public hearings held over Zoom in adherence of COVID-19 protocols. Only Coun. Jim Wright was against the rezoning from its park designation in the OCP to multiple-unit residential.

The rezoning could make way for a development that would see up to 80 units of affordable housing built, which was identified as a need in a recent housing study.

Wright questioned the legality of the adoption during the Feb. 8, 2021, regular meeting of council.

“Whether it was through this comment during the meeting or otherwise, citizens in the community opposed to bylaws have created an online change.org petition decrying the actions of council and further questioning the legality of the bylaws,” city planner Dan Passmore writes in the report to council.

But, he says, everything was done by the book.

The land rezoned, he said, “Was neither dedicated as parkland by subdivision nor reserved or dedicated as parkland under a bylaw under Section 30.”

Courts’ role in municipal government is limited to ensuring proper procedure is followed when regulations are made as well as resolving interpretation disputes, Passmore writes. Courts don’t hear evidence or make rulings on land-use regulations.

Passmore’s report says it’s understandable that members of the public may not have the background in the legislation that gives the city jurisdiction to consider land use, but staff that forward the bylaws to council do.

“This action alone should give all of council the comfort that the bylaws comply with legislation for now and in the future,” Passmore writes.

“The fact that a councillor has questioned the legality of bylaws in open council is indicative that either this councillor is unaware of the legislation that gives council the authority to act,” he writes. “Or the councillor does not have confidence that staff are doing their job.”

READ MORE: Petition penned to reverse Armstrong rezoning decision

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Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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