Zoning bylaw rewrite moves to stakeholder consultation

As Abbotsford moves to streamline zoning bylaw, city will consult with businesses and groups

The first stage of Abbotsford’s zoning bylaw rewrite went to council on Monday, when councillors were asked to provide guidance before the proposal moves to stakeholder consultation.

Urban Systems Ltd. (USL) was contracted to rewrite the bylaw, which will streamline the current bylaw, reducing staff time and simplifying the process for property owners and council.

The contractors identified that the most room for improvement is in Abbotsford’s commercial zones, which will be adjusted to create a more succinct plan for commercial development. Currently, there are 22 different commercial zones in Abbotsford, some which are similar and some which no longer meet planning best practices.

The city is also encouraged to consider development of a stand-alone university/college zone, and modernize language to reflect new realities, such as changing “church” to “places of worship.”

Council encouraged the planners to move ahead with efforts to streamline permitted uses on properties and reduce the permitted commercial density in neighbourhoods in order to encourage development in the core and commercial centres, not in residential areas.

Council was asked for guidance on a current zoning bylaw which limits adult entertainment to the interior of shopping centres – effectively prohibiting such use outright. The decision to not ban adult entertainment outright was due to the city’s legal counsel that the use must be allowed somewhere. USL representatives said that the city does have the option of banning adult entertainment outright, which council said would require more consultation with their legal counsel before they make a decision.

The process will now move to consultation with stakeholders, such as the Abbotsford Airport, University of the Fraser Valley, Agricultural Advisory Committee, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association.

The bylaw will then be drafted and go to public consultation. The process is scheduled to be completed by May 2014.