Summerside seeking input on move to form based code in downtown

Published on May 18, 2017

Summerside planning officer, Thayne Jenkins, speaks with members of the Summerside and Area Historical Society during a meeting Wednesday evening.

©Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

The City of Summerside is now gathering public input into its implementation of form based code land management practices in the downtown.

Summerside City Planner Thayne Jenkins met with members of the Summerside and Area Historical Society Wednesday night to gather its input and answer any questions they might have. He and other city staff will be doing the same thing with various other stakeholders over the next several weeks.

Form based code is a key component of the Summerside Urban Core Plan, which council adopted in principal in March. It outlines the city’s downtown revitalization roadmap over the next several decades.

“The next step in the process is to come up with development standards to manage the vision and implement it in our zoning bylaw. The Urban Core Plan recommends form based code as the planning tool to implement that vision,” said Jenkins.

Form based code differs from traditional land control methods in that rather than labelling each property as being for a specific use, such as residential, institutional or commercial, it focuses on the overall, big-picture look and intended use for a larger area, such as a downtown.

This new method will essentially lay out the community’s vision for the downtown and then give developers greater leeway to pursue opportunities in that vision.

Because there is so much emphasis on upfront expectations, city staff and city council have said in the past that it is important citizens participate and make their wishes known now as the form based code document is being written.

Those in attendance at Wednesday night’s meeting were interested in hearing more about the Urban Core Plan itself, especially regarding what it will mean for sightlines to the water and development along the waterfront.

Natalie Hashie attended because she’s interested in  preserving the city’s waterfront heritage.

She liked most of what she heard from Jenkins, but is happy the community still has time to make its wishes known.

“I’m encouraged that they’re still at the consultation phase and they still want to hear from community members and community groups. So I’m hoping people will come out and share what they feel about what the waterfront means to them and what we as citizens want to see on the waterfront,” said Hashie.  

The city will be holding consultations with community groups throughout May and June. There is also at least one public meeting being planned.

Written recommendations will be accepted up until June 9.

Jenkins expects to make final recommendations to city council and the planning board in July.