A planned Council vote on the draft framework for neighbourhoods to opt-out of enforcement of the current driveway width bylaw on Monday was deferred to a June planning meeting at City Hall, a potential setback for those championing allowed for driveways to be widened.
Currently a city-wide suspension of enforcement for the restrictions and Ward 1 Coun. Dan Gibson, who has been leading an effort to overhaul the old bylaw, brought forward a motion to continue the suspension until a full review was completed, which staff said would likely take until 2021.
Ward 5’s Coun. Cathy Downer brought up concerns around public consultations, saying that engaging the community is crucial before any new framework would be adopted. It was originally planned the first Council item would be an update from staff.
Downer said that “I can’t do that to the residents of Ward 5 who were promised to have [consultation],” explaining she had not mentioned the Council night item to her residents ahead of Monday due to the initial plan for an update and not a motion from Gibson.
Ward 5 includes areas around the University of Guelph, and some residents have expressed concerns to their councillors that a suspension of enforcing the bylaw could bring about “significant problems” in some neighbourhoods.
Downer’s ward-mate Leanne Piper proposed a motion to defer the decision on continuing a city-wide suspension and any further votes on the item until June 10 which passed 7-4 with Mayor Cam Guthrie, Gibson, Mark MacKinnon and Rodrigo Goller voting against it.
A final approved framework for a more permanent suspension of enforcement is marked to come to 1 Carden St. for approval during the third quarter of 2019.
The draft framework to be debated in June initially came from a motion by Gibson in September 2018 to temporarily suspend several of the city bylaws surrounding driveway width, before the municipal election. It received mixed support and criticism at the time.
The draft framework developed by city staff would launch a survey that asks residences to indicate whether or not they are in favour of getting rid of the driveway width restrictions for many homeowners across the city, a normal procedure that has been used for issues in the past.
If more than 50 per cent of residents mark their support for the suspension of enforcement, then Coun. Dan Gibson’s effort to allow many homeowners to widen their driveways will be accepted by supportive neighbourhoods.
The suspension would apply to properties with semi-detached homes and on-street townhouses that fit the standards laid out by the city. Those with city-owned utilities by the driveway cannot change the width.
However, the draft framework, if passed in some form, will be temporary until the full review is completed, expected in 2021.
“I believe on many streets there’s a majority of residents who would like to see some relief from this restrictive by law,” Gibson told ThatGuelph last week in response to an inquiry on whether he thought enough residents would vote in favour.
“I don’t know where the rest of Council sits on this but I look forward to the debate on Monday,” he said at the time.
Reporting by Eli Ridder.