–Derek Lewers, as presented to Council at the October 23 2017 regular Council meeting.
I would like to speak to the forthcoming report to council on the business licence issued for 5536 Sooke Rd.
I am not here to find out how we got here, as I am confident that Council will be doing a full investigation as to how this was allowed to happen, and what measures will be taken to ensure it does not happen again, and share the findings with its ratepayers.
I would like to commend staff for doing their homework and confirming what has been known for years. This despite Mr. Kasper’s assertion that he made his decision based on facts, not one person’s opinion. It is clear that Mr. Kasper’s definition of facts and legal non-conforming need to be updated. Despite what was said about four previous councils (of which Mr. Kasper sat on three of them) not taking action on this file, there is no excuse to turning a blind eye to something that is wrong and illegal, and saying we are not going to act, because no one else has, is akin to saying I walked by the young man being beaten, but so did the four people before me, and they did not stop it, and I had done business with the attacker before, so, why should I? You were all elected to make informed decisions, and it’s irrelevant what came before you. You are the governing body today. Those decisions that are made, are supposed to be in the public interest, not a special interest, and you are in a position to not only make laws for the best interests of all Sooke citizens, but to make sure that the laws we have on the books are upheld, for if not, then having the law is pointless, and it will be the wild west for zoning use in Sooke.
This business does not qualify for a business licence and the reasons are well stated in the report, but that same report has also confirmed that this business is running in contravention to zoning.
Council no longer has the luxury of turning a blind eye to this illegal operation for a second time. When Mr. Kasper was chair of the Finance and Administration Committee in 2013, I brought the issue of this illegal operation to the committee’s attention that time, as it pertained to awarding contracts to businesses that did not have business licences, or were non-compliant with bylaws. That committee voted to direct staff to change the DOS purchasing policy to state that contracts only go to legal compliant businesses, however, that policy remains unchanged.
Council also set precedence in 2014, when they took action to shut down a waste transfer station on Idlemore Rd., that was running against its zoning. This, despite the fact it was all industrial zoned land, but the specific zone did not allow for waste transfer stations.
This current situation is a magnitude larger in its contravention of zoning, with a full industrial operation taking place on rural agricultural land next to a salmon bearing river, a public park, and residences. Despite not being a farm, this operation has been getting away with paying farm taxes, and reduced taxes for over a decade, giving it an unfair competitive edge over legitimate licensed and full taxpaying businesses, while bidding on municipal work, all while denying Sooke taxpayers the fair share of revenue the property should be paying.
As a comparison, Buffy’s Pub, with property roughly the same size as this property, pays over $20,000 per year in property taxes, while this property pays $6,000 and is arguably in a higher rate class being industrial use (not zoning).
This business also does not have a commercial highway access permit, and regularly and illegally shuts down highway 14 to run industrial tracked equipment across the highway, causing delays, damage to road surface, and potential for collisions.
In addition, this business has also removed and deposited soils and rock on agricultural land without a permit, has signs that contravene the sign bylaw, as well as several other regulatory contraventions.
The business licence has been revoked, staff have confirmed the business is and was always illegal. Given that this property, which uses compressed flammable gases and chemicals as part of its complex operation, has never been inspected by the fire department, as well as the precedence being set by many on this council in 2014 on Idlemore, I am demanding, as a neighboring property, who is not only directly impacted day-to-day by the illegal industrial nature and traffic of this operation, but one who will see property values negatively affected by the use of this property, that council take all appropriate action required to cease all current business-related activities on this property, including, but not limited to, the use of fines, as well as notify ICBC that any licence that was used to warrant the issuance of a garage policy for this address, is null and void.
I respectfully ask that Councillor Kasper make a public apology for grandstanding/politicking and making decisions on the fly without having all the “facts” and for the implied remarks at the last meeting that any information that was provided outside of the applicant’s version of the information was only opinion, and for not wanting staff to exercise due diligence on this matter, which was clearly needed for council to see the real facts and make an informed decision.
It is clear that there has been NO excellence in governance or management in this matter, and as such, it is time to act now to rectify that immediately and ensure that this does not occur again in the future.
- Longtime illegal welding business to face enforcement, temporary permit denied
- Applicant driving the temporary use permit misses deadline to apply
- Controversial “house-keeping” bylaw passes Council scrutiny, public hearing in January
- New council cautiously defers text amendment to zoning bylaw, regarding temporary use permits
- Letter: Councillor puts District at risk, admits liability in public meeting
- Closing act: Sooke Council narrowly passes OCP amendment
- Delegation: Derek Lewers presents years of frustration to Sooke Council
- Long-established business with improper zoning & licensing plagues politicians, business owner and neighbours
- Legal matters prevent Sooke council from providing information
- Delegation: Lewers’ family asks the District to stand by their bylaws
- Want to do business with the District? Then a business licence from the District will be required
- Controversial licence rescinded, business owner to appeal
- Council to receive report that chastises Council for granting a business licence
- Delegation reveals Sooke Council divided on being informed
- DELEGATION: Recent bad Council decision tied to the lack of an up-to-date OCP
- District of Sooke grants improper business licence, violates its own zoning
Also from the October 23 2017 Council meeting
- Council expresses discomfort with the usage of the term, “affordable housing”
- Alcohol abuse and domestic violence are crimes to keep an eye on in Sooke
- Controversial licence rescinded, business owner to appeal
- Business blindness needs to stop; request for public apology
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