In a turn of events, the Brookswood-Fernridge Community Plan has failed third reading in a 5-4 vote, following two days and several hours of discussion by council.
Councillors Petrina Arnason, Charlie Fox, Kim Richter, Angie Quaale and Michelle Sparrow all voted against the plan, while Councillors Blair Whitmarsh, David Davis, Bob Long and Mayor Jack Froese voted in favour.
At the present time, the future for Brookswood-Fernridge is uncertain, Mark Bakken, Township CAO told the Times.
Bakken confirmed that Mayor Froese is calling a special meeting for reconsideration of the plan on Monday morning (July 17) at 9 a.m. Prior to voting, staff will also give a presentation on the nearly 15 amendments that were made to the plan on July 10 and 11.
This meeting is open to the public.
If the reconsideration fails, the area will remain under the 1987 community plan.
A group of residents have already started a petition on change.org to put a moratorium on development under the 1987 plan until a new official community plan that “they can support” is put in place.
COUNCILLORS VOTE NO
On Tuesday evening, Coun. Richter told council she was casting her vote with “a real heavy heart,” and that while she appreciates the effort that has gone in to making the plan, she doesn’t believe the document goes far enough to reflect the concerns of the community.
Coun. Sparrow said she could not support the plan without first taking it back to the public, as amended, for comment. Earlier in the night she made a motion to send the document to public hearing, which failed in a 5-4 vote.
Coun. Arnason said in her “heart of hearts” she did not think it was the best document they could have come up with, and that she felt extremely conflicted on whether to “take a leap of faith” with the 2017 plan, or continue under the 1987 plan.
Neither Councillors Fox nor Quaale had outright indicated they were going to vote against the plan.
Just before voting, Fox said that Brookswood-Fernridge has been on the table since he came to council in 2005, and that “it’s got to end.” Quaale did not make any closing comments.
Fox later told the Times that his reason for voting against the plan had to do with the number of amendments made, and that they were “significantly changing the intent and context of the plan.” He, too, said he appreciates the time and effort put into the document by staff, and that he endorses Mayor Froese’s public engagement strategy.
On Wednesday morning, Quaale told the Times she could not discuss her vote as the reconsideration meeting had already been scheduled.
THE COST OF ENGAGEMENT
The public engagement process used while creating the updated plan over the last year and a half has, on many occasions, been described by councillors and staff as one of the most involved processes ever undertaken in the Township.
But that came at a very high cost.
Ramin Seifi, Township general manager of engineering and community development, said for the consultants alone, $175,000 was spent on public engagement. A further $225,000 was spent in staff resources.
Throughout the entire process, the Township saw 4,000 people engaged, including 450 who attended the public hearing on June 27. Forty three people spoke at that hearing — 10 of whom spoke twice — and Township received 98 written submissions.
“This was unprecedented in terms of the number and the type and the scope of the public engagement process that was undertaken, which included a community planning team, as well as out-of-the-box thinking in terms of brainstorming sessions, in terms of one-on-one meetings with the public, workshops and surveys both online and otherwise,” Seifi told council during a presentation on July 10.