Council voted on Monday night 7-6 to continue the suspension of the driveway width by-law for two years until the it is replaced in about two years after community engagement and recommendations coming to the chamber.
Mayor Cam Guthrie and Couns. Christine Billings, Rodrigo Goller, Mark MacKinnon, Dominque O’Rourke, Mike Salisbury and the motion mover Coun. Dan Gibson all voted in favour of continuing the suspension, allowing some homeowners to widen their driveways without consequence.
It was at the May 13 Council meeting when the horseshoe pushed the enforcement vote to the Monday meeting. At the time, staff presented a draft framework on how neighbourhoods could apply to be exemption from the bylaw being enforced.
Gibson motioned then to continue the citywide suspension until the comprehensive zoning bylaw review is completed, a process that includes community engagement and set to be completed by 2021, but a motion from Piper deferred the Gibson initiative to June 10.
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.
On Monday night, a delegate spoke to the same concerns around tenants who lease to university students. Linda Davis of the McElderry Residents’ Community Group said that a suspension could give tenants a “free pass” to widen driveways across Ward 5.
Davis also spoke to concerns that suspending the by-law set a precedent that could see Council suspending by-laws for other minor groups and warned that it took way rights for residents to report infracts to the city’s by-law department.
The suspension started last September when Gibson brought a motion to the horseshoe to suspend many of the rules around driveway widths across the city, saying that the 1995 bylaw does not accurately reflect the needs of many residences across the city.