Did Kamloops councillor talk himself out of attending public hearing?

Denis Walsh confessed to being opposed to proposed rezoning before public hearing has been held

A Kamloops councillor who opposed sending to public hearing a mixed-use building with residential and day care space near the BC Wildlife Park has “effectively recused himself from the public hearing,” according to the city’s corporate officer.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, Coun. Denis Walsh commented on the proposed development at 8960 Dallas Dr., which requires rezoning to allow commercial day care and 19 multi-family units.

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While Coun. Arjun Singh inquired about the location’s proximity to grocery and transit and its designation as urban, Walsh took things further, questioning how the city’s planning department allowed the project to come forward in light of perceived urban sprawl.

He recommended against sending the project to a public hearing, a meeting at which councillors are expected to maintain an open mind before hearing from the public and making a decision.

“I will confess to not having an open mind,” Walsh said, arguing adding to the area in east Kamloops effectively expands city boundaries, impacting the city’s greenhouse gas targets.

“I don’t see how we could, from a planning department, allow something like this to go forward when it’s such a high-density project, 19 units ... at the city limits.”

Mayor Ken Christian said he was “concerned” about Walsh’s declaration, noting the comments would “likely jeopardize the success of a public hearing” and would be better suited after hearing from the public.

City staff concurred with Christian.

“Through his statement that he has publicly declared to not have an open mind on this, I believe Coun. Walsh has effectively recused himself from the public hearing on this matter,” corporate officer Maria Mazzotta said.

Christian reminded council to consider comments prior to the public hearing.

“We’re going to be a slim bench if we go down that road,” he said.

Council voted 7-1 in favour of sending the project to a public hearing at a later date, with Walsh opposed and Bill Sarai absent.

© Kamloops This Week


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