Public appeals to Council to drop rezoning charges for Sooke Vet in Saseenos
At Monday’s Council meeting (September 9, 2019), Council considered a Zoning Amendment Bylaw for 5490 Sooke Road (Saseenos Vet building).
Many members of the public spoke in support of the zoning amendment AND appealed to Council to absorb the costs of the rezone.
Kerry Reay spoke in support of the application, and Ms. Reay’s sentiments were uniformly echoed by all the subsequent speakers. Dr. Booth is an exemplary citizen, she pays commercial taxes (and not all businesses do, added Ms. Reay). Dr. Booth was also recognized at the Sooke Fall Fair for 30 years of volunteering. Reay said she was perplexed about the process. Dr. Booth has already paid once for rezoning, when under the CRD. Sooke took her zoning away in 2006, and now Dr. Booth has to pay again to re-acquire it. Having her pay twice for the same zoning will not resonate well in the business community throughout the area, warned Reay.
Ellen Lewers echoed Reay’s concerns. She noted when Dr. Booth found out her zone had been taken away from her, she was told she had to rezone. Mrs. Lewers echoed the sentiment that Dr. Booth should not have to pay again. Mrs. Lewers later noted there was no change of use. The only change was what the District had changed. The District should absorb the cost. Read the Letter of Support from Ellen Lewers.
Gail Nash noted she had lived here since 1991. A mistake has been made, the costs should be waived. This should not have to happen. Dr. Booth is an ideal neighbour, there have never been any issues. She too supported Reay’s statement that this double billing does not look good in the business community.
Derek Lewers asked how this process came to be. Staff noted that when zoning use changes, there is no legislated requirement to notify business owners. Derek Lewers noted that legislation is a bare minimum, and perhaps the District can step it up. Ultimately as a taxpayer, Derek Lewers supported that the District absorb the cost of the rezoning.
Staff responded, saying it’s a non-conforming business, and legislation requires going through the rezoning process.
Councillor St-Pierre, believing a mistake had been made historically, proposed a new motion on the fly. He noted that the staff is hired to follow the rules, and the Council was elected to follow the rules. That said, a mistake was made, he said. St-Pierre made the motion that Council waive the fees, seconded by Bateman. CAO suggested that staff bring back a report considering the recommendation. The motion was withdrawn, and Council instead directed staff to prepare a report on the history of the change in zoning and the implication of refunding zoning fees for 5490 Sooke Road. Logins made the motion with Councellor Beddows seconding it, and it carried unanimously.
Watch the full 4 hours and 11-minute council meeting, below.