Regular Council Meeting: June 10, 2019, raw notes. Please forgive all typos and errors, these are raw notes that provide an overview of who said what.
Present: Mayor Maja Tait, and Councillors Al Beddows, Tony St-Pierre, Ebony Logins, and Jeff Bateman. Missing were Councillors Megan McMath and Brenda Parkinson.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 733 (600-70), 2019 – 6690 Rhodonite Drive – FAILED.
This bylaw will amend Bylaw No. 600, Sooke Zoning Bylaw, 2013 for the purpose of amending the zoning on the property located at 6690 Rhodonite Drive from Large Lot Residential (R1) to Medium Lot Residential (R2). An affordable housing contribution was set at $30,000.
Bateman had concerns about the traffic impact, adding traffic from four to 16 new cars (for up to eight new households) to existing traffic.
Correspondence on the bylaw
- Legal Documents-Bylaw 733 (A cease and desist letter)
- Bigelow_Correspondence_Bylaw 733
- Bowers_Correspondence_Bylaw 733
- Davies_Correspondence_Bylaw 733
- Davis_Correspondence_Bylaw 733
- Marshall_Correspondence_Bylaw 733
- Mills_Correspondence_Bylaw 733
- Murai_Correspondence_Bylaw 733
- Planeta Correspondence Bylaw 733
Ron Dumont didn’t see a report from the fire department about access, and hydrants, it was a former septic field. Staff noted that referrals were done to the fire department, and there were no significant issues found, provided recommended road widths were met and parking was adequately worked out at a later stage. Parking for the units would have to be provided on the units, not on the roadway. Fire hydrant placement would be a part of the building process.
Jay Ryan, president of the strata that sold the lot. Inspiration purchased the home earlier, and partial payment was received. Tait cut him short, to say that they can only hear on the zoning, not on any civil legal matter. Ryan noted that they shouldn’t be able to go through with the zoning because the property hasn’t been fully purchased. He noted that the buyer has full possession of the property but hasn’t paid in full.
Another resident, Mr. Planeta, noted that his property, a neighbouring property, will impact his property. He opposed the rezoning. The original zoning adds to the property values. The proposed zoning drops his standard of living, costs him his privacy, and his property value will drop. This is not a change for the better.
Bryan Davis, also a resident on that street, noted that a similar strata created parking on the street that can be considered dangerous, especially with school kids walking down that road. The road leads to three of Sooke’s schools, and it’s only a matter of time before some child gets hurt. If there were sidewalks (there currently are none) would make a difference. Kids walk in and out of parked cars in their trips to and from elementary and middle schools. Wadams Way should be considered an access route, and Rhodonite should be able to have speed bumps (currently not an option as it’s considered an emergency vehicle through-way).
Barb McKay also lives on the road, across the road from the property in question. She cautions Council on rezoning it. It used to be a septic field, which complemented people’s property values. She does acknowledge that this development is inevitable. She recommended that the developer follow the flow of the houses around them. She doesn’t like the proposed density, and feels that it doesn’t fit into the existing neighbourhood look-and-feel. She shared the concerns for the safety of the students walking to school, the lack of sidewalks, and the concern of adding more parking onto the street. It feels like a far-away developer is dissembling the feeling of Sooke.
John Mills lends his property out to other neighbours so they don’t have to park on the street. He can’t see another 10 or 12 cars added onto the street. “We’re running out of space.”
Graham Marshall lives next to the previously approved development on Rhodonite. He wanted to echo the “utter dismay” of the previous speakers. That development that he neighbours was “tragic.”
Ellen Lewers addressed the mention of “infill” in the staff report. She noted that that was before Council decided to go to 600m2. Increasing the density is wrong, it goes against the original vision of that neighbourhood. Two lots fits, four lots does not. “We need to respect the people that live there.”
Roy Banner, who represents the buyer, was surprised because the strata knew they were applying for rezoning. Until the financial matters were raised, the neighbourhood was in favour of this.
Suzy Davis, a member of the strata, was also concerned about the increased traffic on the street and road safety. People do not park in their garages. She was unaware that the buyer intended to split it into four lots, and had she known, she would have opposed the sale.
Jay Ryan noted that the strata was unaware that the rezoning was taking place. They feel they are being taken advantage of, as a strata. Tait noted, again, that they can only hear issues about the rezoning.
Barb McKay spoke again about rezoning to fit the community. When an application fits the neighbourhood, there is no opposition. She pointed out there’s a lot of opposition to this one.
Ellen Lewers questioned about notification, as some speakers appeared to be unclear on the rezoning. Staff confirmed that emails were sent out regarding the rezoning, but the details of the strata are still pending until there’s a building permit request.
John Mills said he had no notice on this property. Staff noted that signs for rezoning go up as soon as possible after the rezoning request was received. The sign has been up since January.
Bryan Davis noted that he did not receive a letter, and wondered what the 100 meter radius included. Staff noted that it would include two, maybe three properties out to either side. Davis said he’s be curious to know if anyone here who did receive a letter. Staff noted that a list of addresses are available. Notice is also sent in the print paper. Davis noted that the sign was down for a noticeable length of time.
Tait noted that they can only distribute notice in the print paper.
Editiorial insertion: THIS statement by the mayor IS WRONG. Municipalities are mandated to publish in print paper, but they are welcome to use other mediums as well. The District, however, clearly chooses to stick only to the mandated method. – Britt/SPN
The covenant mentioned in the print ad, “A covenant will also be considered to further regulate the use of the lands and the buildings” according to staff, was referencing the funds set aside for the affordable housing only.
Public hearing was closed.
Beddows noted not one letter was received that supported the rezoning, and many were received opposed to it. He also noted that the Sooke fire chief had concerns about the density. It was a school corridor, and safety was a concern. He would not like to see more on-street parking thrown into the mix. With the current zoning, they can fit in two houses or two duplexes, and that would fit in with the existing look-and-feel. He cannot support this application.
St-Pierre noted that Council doesn’t review the application, that’s done by staff. Staff view it in light of the OCP, which is created by people in the community. He did not that it’s not Council’s job to look after people’s property values. Safety of kid, sewers, parking, yes. Property values, not so much. One of the big asks of the new strategic plan is to improve communications, and he thanked the people for their input.
Bateman is not a fan of up-zoning, and consistently votes against it. There are currently 1,600 homes planned to be built in Sooke, and tomorrow night sees another open house on the development coming to Wadams Way. He regrets mentioning the 16 cars on the outset, and added that that was an absolute maximum. He did note that secondary streets in Sooke do not have sidewalks, and suggested that Rhodonite may make the “sidewalk wish list” in the newly revised transportation plan. The rezoning seems to go against the existing look-and-feel. He will be voting against this.
Logins noted that one of her neighbours has seven cars, so 16 may well have not been the maximum. This rezoning seemed to go against form and character. She noted that as a current walking route for school kids, it is unsafe. The only solution would be to add more parking to the north side of the street, and to ensure garage parking exists (and is used). Safety concerns have not been addressed, and she will not support this development.
At this point, three of the five elected official had stated that they will not support the motion, so ultimately the motion will fail.
Mayor Tait noted she has been here for 10 years, and has watched the community grow. There once was a time for infill development, and in her previous years in Council she did support those developments. Because Rhodonite is an emergency route, speed bumps are not an option. Speeding is a concern, as is pedestrian safety. She noted she herself does not park in her garage as it’s too full with other stuff, but she has a driveway she can park in. She agrees with her colleagues, there’s too much density at this point. It’s already zoned for R1.
Motion made by Beddows to give third reading. Seconded by Logins. Motion defeated unanimously.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 736 (600-71), 2019 – 1939 Maple Ave S – PASSED
The purpose of Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 736 (600-71), 2019 is to amend the zoning on the property located at 1939 Maple Avenue South from Large Lot Residential (R1) to Medium Lot Residential (R2).
The maximum potential for the property is six, though only four lots would be feasible. The developer is proposing an affordable housing contribution amount of $5000 per unit up to a maximum of $20,000 (the initial offer was $1,000 per unit).
A representative (Mr. Gerard Leblanc) of the applicant addressed Council. They worked closely with staff on this application, and the developer agrees with the recommendations made by staff. Under the current zoning, the property could be developed into three lots. The increase to four lots is to provide more cost effective means of developing a subdivision, with two lots accessing roads on either side (two fronting on Galaxy, and two fronting on Maple). Regarding the affordable housing contribution, other municipalities have it established by bylaw. In Sooke, there’s no such bylaw. The amounts vary, and it doesn’t make sense. Increasing the amount make sense because affordable housing is needed. There was a fear that the development would not proceed if the housing contribution was insufficient. Currently, the owner can develop three homes without contributing anything to affordable housing. To add one more, will now cost an additional $20,000. An earlier proposal of $4,000 was deemed unacceptable by Council. The representative asked for a reduced affordable housing contribution to $10,000.
Logins noted this council considers it a privileged to build in Sooke, and an honour.
Mr. Leblanc noted there is no bylaw, just a policy. On reading the policy, it’s questionable that a four-unit development would even fall under this. The $20,000 is only on the table as a strong recommendation from staff, to ensure the development goes through.
St-Pierre noted that a bylaw is needed. He appreciated the need for consistency. And, he appreciates that the developer felt strong-armed. Perhaps there was a way to reward developers for their contribution.
Bateman looked up the OCP, and noted the requirement was a minimum of 10%. He noted that by president, the $1,000 per unit is the standard. He noted that that no longer seems sufficient.
Staff noted that they worked with the applicant on their affordable housing contribution. What they brought forward was what they thought they had agreed to, so they were a bit thrown by this objection. The zoning approval cannot be hinged on the contribution to affordable housing.
Leblanc noted that the application would not be withdrawn, wherever the affordable contribution landed. He also noted this is not a bare land strata or a strata single family residential, neither of which apply to their proposal. That said, they recognize the importance of an affordable housing contribution.
Mayor Tait noted that negotiating a staff report was not the responsibility of Council, and she hesitated to set precedence. Staff suggested deferring the meeting, until a new staff report could be completed.
Leblanc conferred with his client. The client preferred to go ahead with the hearing, to minimize delays. He wants it noted though that a bylaw is needed, and that his client did feel strong armed.
Ellen Lewers also felt the contributions were really high, and she sits on the affordable housing committee. It’s nice to see that it’s four lots, and not a crammed in infill like the units next door.
John Brohman spoke in full support of the application. He felt that the 10% was too high, and supported a bylaw. The affordable housing contribution should be stayed until an actual bylaw exists. He would like to see the developer give that break directly to the home buyer. By not charging it, it’s not a cost that has to passed along to the buyer. Housing prices are dropping, what used to sell for half a million is now selling for $450K. The affordable housing contribution should be zero until there’s an actual bylaw.
Tait noted that the affordable housing fund sits in its own account, and is currently at $97,873. St-Pierre noted that a certain amount of that money went to the affordable housing assessment. It’s not wasted money.
Public hearing closed.
Logins liked the connection through to Galaxy Dr.
Bateman noted that the affordable housing piece was not front of mind. He has no issue with this application, and he’s concerned with the thought out there that everything hinges on the affordable housing contribution. It does not.
St-Pierre appreciated that the proposal stopped at four units, not the allowable six. He did note that it is perfectly legal for the District to negotiate affordable housing. He would rather see developers contribute an actual 10% of their units up for affordable housing. St-Pierre noted that Brohman’s houses sell at affordable rates.
Beddows supported the application.
Mayor Tait noted that Millennial Park was previously a graveyard so would probably be preserved.
Beddows moved third reading, seconded by Logins. Carried unanimously.
Delegation, Wild Wise Sooke – Samantha Webb.
Samantha Webb introduced herself as the Community Coordinator for Wildwise Sooke. She thanked them for support over the years. Their funds to go flyers and signs and information spread out through the community. They are also at the night market, as well as on a variety of social media accounts. They’ve gone to the elementary schools, and have reached about 600 school children. They also work with students at Royal Roads University, and have received great value from their contributions. Another presentation will be made to Council in or shortly after August.
Beddows asked about troublesome bears, are they relocating or shooting? Webb said their focus is education, they leave the bigger decisions to conservation officers. She did not that relocation hasn’t worked well in the past. Prevention is key.
Tait also recommended WWS connect with realtors, as newcomers are sometimes unaware that they are moving into bear country.
Bateman reminded everyone: A fed bear is a dead bear. Webb noted that there used to be one to two dozen bears where were habituated. Last year there was one. This year there have been none so far. There have been plenty of bear sightings, and these are met with neighbourhood education. She noted that sometimes people have limitations and cannot respond to the education fully.
Farrell Estates Sewer Connection Issues – Terry McPhail
Planning for phase 3 has been ongoing since 2017.
He wants to work with staff, to bring this forward. He doesn’t seem to be able to get feedback. Tait noted that a new engineer will be starting soon. McPhail noted their reports are all done, he’s just hoping to connect with staff sooner than later. Staff noted to get this back on the top of the pile, a council resolution can direct staff to proceed with a report by a certain date.
Beddows noted that Sooke sewers were at 70% capacity in good weather, and at 100% when it rains. There are other matters that need to come first. Staff noted that construction is scheduled to deal with capacity later this year or early next year. Staff also noted there are infiltration issues.
St-Pierre noted the developer has a longterm interest in the community. He proposed that, with the climate change crisis at hand, he would want to get on top of this development as it will be unfolding over the next couple of years. Delegate noted that his immediate concern was the sewer, not rezoning.
Tait asked staff if a target date of November was reasonable. Staff said a target date of October or November is perfectly reasonable. The delegate noted that the next phase wouldn’t start for the next two or three years. They have been waiting for a year and a half on this.
Council directed staff by way of a resolution to report back on sewer connection and inclusion report by November 2019. Bateman / Beddows, carried unanimously.
On and Off-Leash Dog Areas – Robert Whittet
From his written application:
The CRD controls and sets bylaws for all areas under its control from the Gulf Islands to Port Renfrew. Of the 34 regional parks they list, 11 are designated as dog on-leash areas. Of those, 2 are actually off-leash parks but have campgrounds that require dogs be on-leash. One park, on Fender island, has an area that is designated as an “environmental protection zone” so has an on-leash requirement although the rest of the park is off-leash. One park is listed as off-leash except for one trail.
Of the remaining 7 parks, 5 are in Sooke: Ayum Creek Regional Park, Galloping Goose Trail (about 1/3 is in Sooke Region), Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, Sooke Potholes Regional Park, Sea to Sea Regional Park and Sooke Hills Regional Park (it actually spans several regions).
In contrast, Large parks such as Elk Lake Regional Park, Beaver Lake Regional Park, Thetis Lake Regional Park, Matheson Lake Regional Park, Witty’s Beach Regional Park, are all off-leash areas. Off-leash requires that dogs be under the control of the owner. That means the dog will come when called.
Sooke seems to the be the exception in CRD controlled areas.
Most areas under their management, which their website shows as 70 parks and trail systems are off-leash and under control of the owner. It appears then, that the CRD sees the residents of all regions under its management as being responsible when it comes to controlling their dogs. The exception is Sooke, whose citizens are clearly seen as not responsible by the CRD.
I find this insulting and demeaning to the people of Sooke. I would like to see Sooke residents treated as equals by the CRD.
Tait noted this came up last year as well. Council then found that the CRD really needs to look at their dogs policies. Both herself and Bateman sit on their Parks Committee.
Staff noted that the CRD is working on a more fulsome report. The bylaw previously stated on-leash or under control. They spent several years looking into this shift. A more fulsome report is pending.
Bateman noted they don’t want to advise anyone to flaunt the law. They were here last year, and Sooke was the one municipality was asking for an exception.
Public Question and Comment period
Ron Dumont: on the plastic bag bylaw, he asked if any of Council had been to the landfill, and he recommended they all go. He felt the drink bottles were even more dangerous to the environment. This council should focus on education, especially on the youth.
Ellen Lewers: On the daycare, an earlier application didn’t need a traffic study. This application is being asked for a traffic study, for a sidewalk, and more. A spot zoning in this case should not be an issue, in this area. She seeking consistency in applications. There’s too much mystery. We need to have proper regulations. She fully supports the daycare application. Also, cyclists are supposed to have bells on their bikes and they don’t.
Trisha Pincolm: She is disappointed in the report. It contains a lot of information but it fails the system. They want answers for hard question. They want to think creatively. The system that is currently in place doesn’t work for small business owners. Big business may be able to afford sidewalks and traffic studies. Small businesses can’t. The sidewalk in the staff report was never discussed. All of Sooke is looking for care. But the small time provider can’t afford to meet all the reports and requirement. “There’s no money left to build the building.”
Erin Tapalco (sp?) spoke in strong support of the daycare having a continued presence in Sooke. There’s an explosion of young families in Sooke, and it’s heartbreaking to think that these families wouldn’t have the same option to send their kids to this daycare in Sooke. She’s holding out hope that Council will do the right thing, Sooke needs this daycare.
Cannabis Production – Report for Information – RECEIVED
Staff gave a presentation. Marijuana that is produced must be sold to the province, who then in turns distributes (sells) products to local sellers. In order to be a producer, you have to have the facilities built before you can apply for an application. ALR considers growing and manufacturing of cannabis to qualify as farm use. Sooke’s OCP does not address cannabis, but there are agriculture references that could apply.
Sooke staff did host a meeting of people interested in cultivating cannabis. 140 responses have been received to the District’s current survey. See District seeks public input on cannabis production facilities, the survey remains open until Monday, June 24th.
Tait asked what staff was looking for from this?
The Planning Department noted that industries that have been successful in certain regions have been so because Districts were ahead of the curve, and didn’t wait for an application come forward to act on anything.
The ALR move to allow cannabis production came as a surprise to Tait, and there appeared to be no consultation. Staff noted they would be taxed as a farm. Tait said that that wouldn’t work for her. Staff noted that the ALR controls ALC lands.
Ellen Lewers expressed her strong disagreement with this. She would like to see priority go to food production. She proposed Sooke consider a 30% cap on cannabis. Cannabis is a danger drug, and leads to other health complications including addiction and mental health challenges. (From her clarification in the comments below: ALR land or agricultural producing lands should only be allowed 30% production for cannabis and the rest for food production.)
Batement noted they had a tour of the facilities at the Sooke Business Park (CannaPark, actually in the CRD, not Sooke proper) which will be home to a number of micro-growers (18 signed up so far). He noted that the requirements are prohibitive, in that the facilities must be built before an application can be made.
Logins moved the recommendation, seconded by St-Pierre.
- THAT Council accept the Cannabis Production report for information; and
- THAT Council to direct staff to prepare the necessary bylaws and/or policies pertaining to the regulation of cannabis production.
10.2 Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw No. 734, 2019 – APPROVED
Staff presentation: Restrictions to be put on single-use plastic bags typically used at a cash check out. It would come into effect on January 1, 2020, to allow businesses to use up their existing bags.
Tait asked if there was some way of notifying existing businesses. Staff noted that there were would be an educational components undertaken once adopted.
Logins noted that they bylaw doesn’t solve the problem, and that she herself reuses all her plastic bags, but it is working towards a solution and it is working in other Districts. Canada is making this national by 2021, so getting a start on it is a good idea.
Beddows noted that with a date of 2020, there’s plenty of time for businesses to adapt. With the feds, who knows what will happen in six months.
St-Pierre noted that not all bags are re-used, and not all that are trashed end up in landfills. There are many pollutants we can do without.
Bateman is pleased to see this has finally arrived, and he added that enforcement needs to be a part of this. Tofino and Uclulet, who both just passed bylaws, also included straws. Their regulations were effective at the date of their passing, with enforcement starting in 2020. At 77 bags per person per year, it’s not an insignificant number.
Ann Clement brought in Polly, a doll made of plastic. She was here to celebrate that they were bringing in the bylaw. She noted this is just the beginning, and she’s looking forward to more improvements. She will be there for every step of the way. (Ann promises to send along a better photo to SPN! yay! -b)
THAT Council adopt the bylaw cited as “District of Sooke Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw No. 734. 2019”. St-Pierre / Beddows, carried unanimously
Tait asked about a leave policy. Currently, one has to ask council for permission for things like mat leave and the like. This makes it hard to attract young candidates to council. This is a known barrier for younger women getting into government.
Staff will consider this.
Logins confirmed that this is an issue. Maternity or Paternity leave times may differ. There needs to be recognition of different requests. There also needs to be some sort of guarantee that when you come back from leave you return to the same appointments you had when you left.
St-Pierre requested that this get tabled to June 24, given that it was already 10:30.
Bateman noted a few grammatical and logistics clarifications, which will be incorporated by staff.
There was no one wanting to contribute to Public input.
Rescind third reading. Carried unanimously. New third reading as amended passed.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 729 (600-68)-2019-2489 Otter Point Rd
- Consideration of Adoption – Carried
THAT Council direct staff to file a Notice of Motion to the June 19, 2019 CRD Water Supply Commission meeting and to the July 2, 2019 Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission meeting.
(1) THAT Council provides an additional $2,565 from Council Contingency towards the 20th Anniversary event budget.
(2) THAT Council direct staff to purchase additional swag items to distribute in celebration of the 20th anniversary event, with a budget of $400 from Council Contingency.
Mosiac at Ed Macgregor Park to be dismantled
THAT Council receive the report regarding Journey Middle School Mosaic at Ed Macgregor Park for information.
From the staff report: This mosiac will be dismantled, restoration is not possible. It’s not just surface damage, but there are roots coming in from underneath. Staff will do their best to preserve what they can and send it back to the schools from which it came.
Report received, Carried unan
It was noted that a traffic assessment was not required for facilities of 16 or less children attending. They will still have to do a sidewalk dedication.
Beddows noted that another two months are required, and this does not fit into the previous call for speed.
St-Pierre asked the question, are we going to give preferential treatment? Will special treatment be afforded to a small business providing an essential community service? Child care is crucial to economic development. What can we do to get shovels into the ground, to make this happen?
The proponent was invited to speak to Council. She noted this was not a matter of greed. She wants to help all of Sooke. No one has objected to what she is doing.
Beddows asked if some of the fees can be waived. Tait noted that it was done for non-profits. She also noted that special allowances were allowed for craft breweries.
Logins noted that they’d be waiving a cost of doing business. She cannot support going down that road. More discussion is probably required.
Staff noted that with marijuana, they were allowed in their pre-existing phases as medical marijuana, things were different. This is a new business that wants to go on to a site. Tait noted that there is a paved surface that is like a sidewalk, so why is this land and road dedication required?
Staff cautioned that if you move it for one business, you will be asked to move it for others.
Logins noted that the paved surface argument could be made for south Sooke too, with the sidewalk to McGregor Park.
St-Pierre suggested this may not be able to be done in the time left to them. If the usage were permissible, most of this would go away. The report requirements would still be required though, and there are separate costs associated with rezoning, even for a spot zoning.
Staff noted that if their recommendations were followed, they could be through it in two meetings.
You could really hear Council struggle with this.
Staff’s recommended motions:
- THAT Council accept this report for information; AND
- THAT Council approve the reopening of PLN01359 Rezoning application for a fee of
Logins / St-Pierre, carried unanimously
Motion to continue past 11: Logins, St-Pierre opposed, motion carries.
16 Verbal Reports
17 Notices of Motion
Notice of Motion – Councillor McMath From May 27, 2019, Regular Council Meeting
THAT Council direct staff to connect with the service provider of the newly installed monopole, at the corner of Otter Point Road and Wadams Way, to discuss the possibility of an art installation.
Bateman, St-Pierre, carried unanimously
18. Released in-camera resolutions: nothing to report
19. Adjournment: 11:07pm