Public session starts weeklong dialogue in St. John’s
American landscape planner Randall Arendt told a room full of St. John’s residents Tuesday evening that urban subdivisions are often predictably built as defined by zoning requirements and development bylaws.
Approximately 60 people attended a public meeting at St. John’s City Hall Tuesday night focused on the development of the city’s Parks and Open Space Master Plan. Further meetings are scheduled to take place in all five wards this week and next. — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram
“It’s interesting we have this disconnect between what people would want and what is produced,” said Arendt, one of the consultants assisting the City of St. John’s as it develops a Parks and Open Space Master Plan.
“That’s only because the regulations don’t seem to be in sync with what people are telling us they want.”
He’s hoping that the public consultation process now underway in the city will change the way parks and greenways are incorporated into new development proposals.
Arendt and Jim Scott of Trace Planning and Design jointly hosted Tuesday’s meeting at city hall, which served as the first of six public meetings taking place in a little more than a week to get public input for the master plan. Other meetings will focus on the needs of specific wards.
Arendt spoke at length about greenway planning and its ability to add value to neighbourhoods and the homes within them. He spoke of the benefits that come from walking through an area prior to development. Doing so allows one to consider what green features can be creatively incorporated into a neighbourhood or merit protection and what open spaces can possibly become parks.
“Whether you’re building at a density of 40 acre or 60 acre or one unit to the acre, there’s always an opportunity to build a little bit differently so that not all of the buildable land is converted into house lots and streets,” he said.
Looking at St. John’s as it currently exists, Scott and Arendt both praised the Churchill Square area for its mix of trees, small lots, open space, businesses and varied housing options.
Looking at the elements that make Churchill Square a unique neighbourhood, attendees were later asked to consider in groups which of those elements should be deemed as important for a growing city.
Arendt took questions from the crowd of approximately 60 people in attendance. One man asked about the potential to make it easier to wander through the downtown area.
Arendt suggested an inventory of underutilized downtown areas could be created to consider the potential to connect them. He also made mention of fostering new developments that are taller but slimmer so the ground can be used for other purposes, including open space.
A resident of the Kenmount Terrace area spoke of his disappointment with how the area has been developed, citing specifically a lack of consideration given to creating parks and open space. He said the city seems to be OK with letting development in the area continue as it has so long as tax revenue is generated.
Arendt said the process to develop the master plan will likely recommend bylaw ammendments with such concerns in mind.
A meeting for Ward 2 residents is scheduled to take place Thursday at city hall at 7 p.m.