Several questions posed at last Friday’s forum for council candidates focused on the town’s Pattern Book and planning decisions.
Three candidates were asked to answer each of the questions posed during the two and a half hour session.
Steve Rowe was very blunt when he asked, “Has the Pattern Book and planning department become a hindrance to attracting business to Sylvan Lake?”
The Pattern Book is the guide which regulates development in the area north of the railway, the types of buildings and architectural styles.
“My first position is that every time you have a document that’s created it becomes personal,” said Dale Plante. “It could get in the way.” He’d earlier said he supports a “thorough review” of the Pattern Book.
“When reviewing it say what is best for the town now. What I want is no disconnect between economic development and planning. It’s important the planning department has the flex. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong, we’ve just got to do an adjustment.”
Megan Chernoff said the current Pattern Book “is very restrictive” but understood the concept behind it. “Holding to four patterns is difficult.” She’d allow developers to pick styles that are “still beautiful, match their budget and current needs”.
“I’d be interested to know if business has been turned away,” said Jas Payne. “If we’re going to grow as a community we need to accept things are going to be a little different. We need flexibility and diversity. I would think at some point somebody is going to look down the road at the need to proactively look at the Pattern Book.”
An earlier question has been posed to Plante, Payne and Charlie Everest asking if they’d be willing to open the Pattern Book for revisions and improvement.
“I’m in favour of a review, I don’t believe one size fits all,” said Plante. “We need to look at development on an individual basis. I don’t believe you can take a whole area.”
Describing the Pattern Book as “a prescribed set of guidelines for businesses on how they’re supposed to look,” Payne said the new town hall fits the book’s requirements to a ‘T’. “That’s a fairly big prescription for a company to accept. I’m totally up to the idea … It should be a guide not a hammer.”
Everest agreed “yes, 100 per cent, open it to review, make changes. Certain individual businesses need to have their own say what to do with buildings. It needs to be changed and revised.”