Audra Boudreau had her work cut out for her on Thursday, as she tallied up petition signatures of Kelowna residents opposed to a supportive housing project slated for McCurdy Road.
She said she believes they will meet their 13,000-signature goal.
The petition organizer, alongside volunteers, have gone door-to-door collecting signatures and even hosted a drive-thru signing at Rutland Secondary School.
But will that be enough to convince council to bring the controversial project back to the table?
What city councillors can do and what the implications of their actions are, are two different questions, Kelowna city clerk Stephen Fleming said.
Fleming said a 30-day reconsideration mechanism is outlined in both the community charter and in the council procedure bylaw, meaning the mayor can bring back an item that had previously been approved, including the McCurdy housing project.
In the case of the McCurdy supportive housing project, the rezoning of the land received a third reading in September 2017 and the bylaw was adopted on June 17 this year, before councillors voted “yes” on the form and character of the project and issued a development permit.
The Council Procedure Bylaw says a matter brought forward for reconsideration must be done at the time of, or within one month of a council decision. And under the conditions of the Community Charter, if the original decision was the adoption of a bylaw—such as a land rezoning—and that decision is rejected on reconsideration, the bylaw is deemed to be repealed.
“But in this hypothetical case for McCurdy, it’s not as straight forward,” Fleming said. “Could you reconsider this? Yes. But what are the implications of that.”
“It’s not just vote again and get a different answer,” he said.
Implications considered by councillors, Fleming said, could include financial impacts on the applicant or builder and if the project has already been started.
“To un-adopt a bylaw, we’d have to introduce something that says, ‘hey, this is the wrong zone, it should be something else’ and change the future land use map to what it was originally, or some other zone,” Fleming said. “Because it is an adopted bylaw, you can’t just un-adopt it like a resolution.”
Council may also consider what is best for the community as a whole.
Fleming said one side affected by the project “would be pleased,” referring to the community of Rutland, but what would that look like for those who are supporters of the project? “What message does that send?”
“Stuff an elected official must consider; can you do something? Should you do something? The answer is not always the same,” he said.