The first day of the Missing Middle Housing Initiative was split down the middle with half of participants speaking in favour of the motion and half speaking against, and the public hearing is now set to resume on Sept. 1.
There were 51 speakers who were heard both in person, and on the phones. Of those, 26 spoke in favour of the motion, and 25 spoke against.
Arguments in favour included issues of housing affordability and lack of supply of housing.
Opposed included that projects that comply with missing middle regulations will mean there won’t be a chance for public input, or concerns about preserving neighbourhood character.
Additionally, many spoke about how they would like this to be a matter considered by the incoming council after the upcoming municipal election.
At the end of the meeting, council adjourned for its summer break and will not meet again until Sept. 1, at which point the public hearing will resume.
People who were signed up to speak both in person and online will hold their spot in the line and will be the first to speak when the Sept. 1 public hearing resumes, and there will be a chance for additional speakers to sign up if they didn’t get a chance during the Aug. 4 meeting.
Mayor Lisa Helps at the end of the meeting noted that as the public hearing is still ongoing, there are legal restrictions on what councillors can and can’t do in the next month regarding missing middle.
“Here’s what will happen next, first of all, it’s really important, because the public hearing is continuing that council cannot receive any information from anyone on this missing middle initiative between now and September 1,” Helps said. “So that means if we receive emails we will not read them, our instruction is to delete them, if you stop us in a coffee shop to bend our ears, we’ll have to say ‘we can’t talk about that.'”
“And the reason is…the hearing is still open and what that means is that anything that council hears, the public and everybody else has to hear as well. That is how the public hearing process works.”
David Black, communications expert, Royal Roads University said the MMHI is a transformative policy that ultimately will be decided at the ballot box.
“This will be an election issue,” Black said. “Perhaps the ultimate public hearing is the election. Not simply a meeting in council chambers.”
People can still submit written submissions to the public hearing email address to be considered by council, but information can not be sent to individual councillors. The correct email to submit feedback to is [email protected] and emails can be sent until 2 p.m. on Sept. 1 for consideration in the public hearing.
Council has not yet heard the pre-recorded video and audio submissions as those will be considered after speakers are heard.