City council has tasked administration with reviewing current landscaping requirements in heavy industrial areas.
The motion requesting a report looking at relaxing the requirements was put forward by Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick and passed unanimously.
The motion calls for fewer landscaping requirements heavy industrial areas, zoned M1. That includes the north industrial park, some areas south of Marquis Road and the city’s far northeast, where the pulp and paper mill is located.
Ogrodnick said a concerned business reached out when the landscape requirements created difficulties for semis turning around in their lot.
“I can understand along Second Ave, 15th Street or other areas of the city that we want to have nicely landscaped, manicured properties,” Ogrodnick said.
“In north industrial, it doesn’t make sense. As long as we have the requirement that they cut their weeds and we have curbs, that should be the requirement.”
Dionne agreed. He said some land deals have been put at risk when potential buyers in the north industrial area see the landscaping requirements.
“I don’t want to lose a land deal or a sale. That could happen if we don’t move quickly with this one, because (businesses) are not going to comply if we want all these trees and tens of thousands of dollars of landscaping. It ain’t gonna happen.”
Dionne said that aside from visiting the SPCA or SARCAN, most residents rarely frequent the city’s heavy industrial areas, and that it’s not a place that would be visited by say, tourists.
While some industrial uses are located by the airport, they’re located in a different zone that wouldn’t be included in Ogrodnick’s motion.
“Heavy industrial — that means garbage and refineries,” Dionne said.
“You’re only going there if you’re a trucker or (working) at that kind of business.”
Dionne mused that the requirement should never have been put into the zoning bylaw in the first place. He suggested it was an oversight on council’s part, mistakenly passed as part of a bigger package of reforms.
“We made a mistake,” Ogrodnick agreed.
Dionne told Craig Guidinger, the city’s director of planning and development that businesses on the fence about buying land in the north industrial park should be made aware that council is considering lightening the landscaping requirements.
“The intent … is to say yes to new business, not to say no over a tree.”
Under existing rules, the first three metres of a property’s front yard must be landscaped. In corner lots, the side lot must have at least 3 metres of landscaping. That minimum can be reduced by the width of a city boulevard if one exists in front or beside an industrial property – an exception that applies to few properties in the north industrial park.
Front yards are required to be a minimum of 7.5 metres.
Landscaping is also required for all areas of a property not covered by a building, accessory, parking lot, driveway, walkway or other “required site feature.”
Landscaped areas have to be surrounded by poured curbs, and one tree is required per every 45 square metres of required landscaping.
Council was originally asking that the report only look at removing the landscaping requirements. After Guidinger intervened, however, council agreed to instead look at “relaxing” the landscaping requirements, giving administration more options to present at a future meeting.