Dear Mayor Helps and Council,
The DCAP Review process that the DRA LUC participated in will shape what this city will become. The details matter. The current iteration of DCAP, if built out as allowed, will be an unmitigated disaster for our city and its citizens, both present and future. This situation is bad enough to start with, and the time to correct it is already late. As such we should be especially wary of making things worse.
The DRA position, clearly made at the stakeholder meetings, is to identify and strengthen the prescriptive language that is known to be weak (eg replace words like “consider” with “shall”). We are encouraged that prescriptive language has been proposed in several of the most important instances including tower separation, setbacks and floor plate maximums. However, the draft proposes language that is less prescriptive for minimum lot sizes for towers and there are no proposed limits for densities on smaller lots. This is a concern.
Fort Street is a recognized heritage corridor yet DCAP is facilitating its total destruction and redevelopment. This was pointed out by the DRA when DCAP was first created and we were assured that heritage character would be preserved by way of the design guidelines. We have reiterated that concern during this review and it appears nothing concrete will be done.
While the industry has advocated for and would certainly prefer the looser performance based regulation, rather than the any prescriptive language, there is a strong case not to move away from prescriptive language at all. To state the obvious, the developers have much better lawyers and consultants. They have more time and they have a great deal more money. Any goal which is qualitatively defined is thus immediately vulnerable to the onslaught of a small army of extremely capable intellectual consultants, who can reliably distort, twist and otherwise abuse the language (and process) to suit the ends of their clients. It is an extremely lopsided contest already that does not benefit the community at large, and the support the development
industry has given the proposed amendments likely means it will remain so. A writing of the guidelines that is unambiguously prescriptive is the best defense for this massive asymmetry.
While the proposed amendments should be considered the bare minimum essential to create a livable city the existing prescriptions of the current DCAP, with its substandard setbacks and excessive densities, are constantly being exceeded and approved by Council without reflection. So we not only ask Council to approve the proposed DCAP amendments as quickly as possible, but to also abide by them.
Sincerely, Ian Sutherland Chair Land Use Committee - Downtown Residents Association