(What does RAW stand for? really awfully written, or rough and written)
These RAW notes summarize the three public hearing that took place at the September 16 Special Council meeting. As explained by the mayor at the beginning of the meeting, a special meeting is one that falls outside of the annually-set schedule. It’s still a Council meeting, and the same processes apply.
All were present: Mayor Maja Tait, and Councillors Al Beddows, Tony St-Pierre, Megan McMath, Ebony Logins, and Jeff Bateman.
Zoning to allow a home on Church Road to accommodate daycare hesitantly but unanimously passed
Public Hearing (PH) 1 – Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 738 (600-72), 2019 – 2365 Church Road
Staff report: A request is made to amend the zoning at 2365 Church Road to permit a Community Care Facility for approximately 40 children, requiring a zoning amendment from Large Lot Residential (R1) to Community Facilities (P2). There are no exterior changes planned for the building at this time.
This is not a site approval request, but a site concept request. If approved, the site will still have to undergo site approval.
Council had concerns about parking. Staff noted that daycares have minimal impact when it comes to parking, as it’s drop-off and pick-up parking and not all-day parking. Also, there’s a two-hour window for drop-off and pick-up, so traffic tends to stagger. The number of spots that can be licensed will depend on the Health Authority, who does a site visit and assessment.
The applicant was invited to speak. Council asked if she had submitted an application to VIHA; she replied that that application has to wait until Sooke approves the zoning. She is aiming to have 12 infant and toddler spots in the upper level and 16 (three and older) at the lower level.
Logins clarified that Council’s job right now was to see if this was a good fit for the neighbourhood. That’s what she will be listening for, not parking and the number of children.
One member of the public, neighbour, had concerns about the noise during the day. His wife is a nurse and she works at night and sleeps during the day.
A second person who lives just across the property spoke to say he was concerned about the number of children and the through traffic on the road. There are a number of children who live in that area, and increased traffic could endanger the lives of these children. The top of the hill is a blind hill, and cars are driving 50-60K; suddenly encountering a parked car introduces a hazard.
A third person, Karen, who owns two homes down the street, she’s also concerned about parking and safety. The blind hill, for her too, poses a danger.
Staff reminded everyone that parking is a separate matter from this hearing. Staff also noted that currently, Sooke does not identify “Resident Only” street parking.
The applicant was called up and asked about the hours of operation. She replied that she would probably be open from 6am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Public hearing was closed.
Logins made the motion for third reading, seconded by Beddows. She believes that much of the process still to come would, including parking and the number of children. For Logins, she felt deep empathy with the nurse who had to work night shifts. Beddows echoed his previous concerns (parking, number of children). St-Pierre wished there were more small daycares presenting themselves, but since that’s not the case, he acknowledges that Sooke needs both daycare spaces and employment. Noise abatement is a neighbour-to-neighbour issue. Bateman noted that the applicant has invested deeply in this application, and character references speak highly of the applicant. Mayor Tait agreed that there is a lot of traffic and a lot of child spots anticipated. She also acknowledged that kids are loud and that kids play. She recognized the sightline issue. The number of children depends on the licensing that gets approved, that’s out of scope for this conversation. She’s comfortable moving this along.
THAT Council give Third reading to the bylaw cited as Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 738 (600-72), 2019. Carried unanimously.
Temporary use permit for craft marijuana growers unanimously passed
4.2. PH 2 – Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 742 (400-13), 2019 & Zoning Amendment Bylaw NO. 741 (600-73), 2019 – Cannabis
Referenced the survey that distributed to the public:
This survey was launched on June 2 and received a total of 166 responses. Key findings from this survey include the following (for full results see Attachment 1):
- 50% of respondents were not concerned about cannabis production in Sooke
- 20% of respondents were very concerned about cannabis production in Sooke
- The top 3 concerns respondents had about cannabis production were:
- Proximity to schools, daycares, community centres etc. (46%)
- Odour (45%)
- Number of production facilities in Sooke (37%)
- Most respondents (62%) agreed that the District should differentiate between large-scale (standard) and small-scale (micro) production in its regulations The top 3 areas desired by respondents for cannabis production were:
- Industrial (70%)
- Rural and/or agricultural (49%)
- Commercial (28%)
- Nearly 1 in 5 respondents (31 individuals) were interested in opening a cannabis production facility in Sooke, or working for one
Read the full report here. It was noted that the Sooke proposed bylaws are pioneering, an attempt to get ahead of demand. As a result, there are no existing bylaws to draw from.
Staff is recommending a temporary use permit. Councillor Beddows noted that a start-up investing a building for a business probably wouldn’t want to seek operation under a temporary use permit.
Mayor Tait noted that according to the feds, buildings have to first be built before companies can apply for a marijuana production license.
Staff noted that ALR currently does allow for marijuana growth. Staff noted that there is an expectation that it will be hard to just strike up an ALR marijuana growth operation, given the security requirements that would be involved. The District of Sooke does not require permits for farm structures.
Ellen Lewers noted that under the temporary use permit, you can’t put up a building. Staff noted that there is a way to address that. Currently, temporary use permits are used for existing structures.
Scott Taylor noted this was a great opportunity for Sooke. A temporary use permit would shut down that opportunity. He says he’s had talks with many producers, and this type of permit would seriously dampen their prospects to the point of probably not even applying. The jobs that will be created from production are high quality and high paying jobs.
Public hearing closed.
Consideration of Third Reading
THAT Council give Third reading to the bylaw cited as Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 742 (400-13), 2019. On the recommended action, Logins / McMath. St-Pierre didn’t see the support for this. He noted that a temporary use permit consumes a lot of staff time. He was opposed to the temporary use, he didn’t see the benefit for businesses. Logins saw options within the recommended motion. The mayor noted that if someone wanted to apply differently, they could apply for a zone change. The temporary use permit would allow for this to be considered as an option. Beddows was comfortable proceeding with this because having something was better than having nothing, and if the landscape shifts federally (which is possible), this too can shift. Tait noted this gives us a starting point. Bateman agreed with the last set of comments. CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY
Note that this would appeal to the craft grower, as opposed to the mass producer of marijuana.
THAT Council adopt the bylaw cited as Official Community Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 742 (400-13), 2019. Logins / Bateman Carried unanimously
THAT Council give Third reading to the bylaw cited as Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 741 (600-73), 2019. Logins / Bateman, Carried unanimously.
THAT Council adopt the bylaw cited as Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 741 (600-73), 2019. Logins / St-Pierre, carried unanimously.
Long-time non-conforming illegal business denied temporary use permit
In a nutshell, with Councillors Batemen and McMath opposed (they wanted to allow just another five weeks for documentation), Sooke Council denied Driver’s request for a temporary use permit. As the mayor noted, in not passing this, “this is it.” From the attached staff report, ” If Council upholds the
recommendation to refuse the application, then enforcement would ensue.”
Expect enforcement to ensue.
Following are the detailed notes from the meeting.
4.3. PH 3 – Temporary Use Permit for 5336 Sooke Road
“The purpose of this application is for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) to accommodate an existing Vehicle and/or Equipment Repair, Machine Shop, Autobody Paint Shop, Accessory Storage Yard, Accessory Retail Sales. The applicant is also requesting the addition of a new use; Vehicle Sales at the property municipally addressed as 5536 Sooke Road. These uses, with the exception of Vehicle Sales, are currently operating on the site and have done so for more than 10 years. The applicant wishes to obtain a Business License from the District of Sooke but must first comply with the Sooke Zoning Bylaw. The Official Community Plan (OCP) does not support rezoning the site, therefore, the applicant is requesting a TUP for the maximum time frame of three years. The TUP, if approved would be strictly for those uses that are pre-existing and in their pre-existing state. The TUP would not permit the construction of new permanent structures during the lifetime of the permit.
“Staff is recommending refusal due to lack of sufficient information to make an appropriate recommendation to Council. Staff has requested the following information from the applicant over a period of two months and at the time of writing this report had not received the information.”
Details are outlined in the report along with an environmental assessment and restoration plan report funded by the applicant.
Beddows asked about the vehicle sales component, which is a new venture.
Bateman asked about a timeline that has happened over the past eight months.
Staff noted that the process takes some time, there have been some delays at no fault to the applicant, resulting in an extension of the timeline.
St-Pierre asked about the timeline. Staff noted that on July 8, the applicant was contacted with a list of required documentation and deadlines. The documentation was not received.
Beddows asked about the letter from the CRD, received today. Staff noted this was a response as an adjacent landowner.
St-Pierre asked if they followed staff’s recommendation, what would happen next. Staff said the business could not operate on a temporary use permit and would continue being a non-conforming business. Staff would then ask Council for direction.
Ellen Lewers noted that some of the uses are not historical, ie the autobody paint shop, vehicle sales were never there prior to 2010.
Derek Lewers endorsed the report. He felt like he had a hand in writing it. He asked if this business has ever been legal on this property. Staff noted that this business has never been approved for business. Derek Lewers asked about a fire inspection. The fire chief noted that more analysis was needed. He noted that compliance checks had been done. Lewers noted that there are many properties on this building, all in close proximity to each other. He asked if a spatial assessment had ever been done. No, this has not been done. Lewers then asked about a gas line that runs close to the Galloping Goose Trail. Staff noted this was pre-existing. Lewers noted that distance buffers are being considered for marijuana growth, he would like a similar consideration for this property. Lewers noted that the owner hadn’t applied for approval for any aspect of his business. Lewers noted that the tax assessment had shifted the tax category for this property over the years, some of which the owner contested. Lewers also noted that the site plan was not surveyed and is not accurate. The measurements may or may not be true. This is problematic in defining setbacks. Lewers also notes that the report does not mention all the bylaws that are being broken, from sidewalks to signage. He asked if any of the bylaw infractions have been addressed. The bylaw officer noted that bylaw has not been on the property in the last four months.
The bylaw officer noted that when an investigation is done, that information remains static. Once they leave a property, they have no control over what happens on that property. An inspection is in a moment of time.
Diane Bernard is a business owner in Sooke and a local resident. She noted that she’s read the report four times. It’s thorough and covers everything. They make a strong recommendation, and Ms. Bernard urged Council to follow it. Her concerns also included the Ayums creek are, the galloping goose, then neighbouring properties and business, and more. She noted this business was out of scope of their zoning. Bigger picture, Council has set conditions to meet requirements, eg rainwater management plan, and they were not met. She noted that Ayum creek is an incredible asset to the community. We need to protect this salmon habitat, making this creek even more valuable. It’s our duty, she said. The other asset was the Galloping Goose trail. It’s not to be messed with. She also noted that Saseenos has been recognized for its small scale agriculture. The existing small businesses fit the plan. This business in question does not fit. Council and staff have bent over to accommodate this business, and they still haven’t complied with requests. How much more time will be consumed? She recommended Council stand by this report. It’s time to stand by the staff, stand by the area, and stand by the OCP.
Gail Nash from Saseenos is bothered that the Lewers had to put up with this stress for years. She’s also bothered that non-compliance has been allowed to continue. It’s time to stop rewarding non-compliance. “It’s time it ended.”
Amanda Booth from Sassessnos also felt it’s reprehensible that Sooke continues to support a business that operates outside of the law.
Melissa Curtis asked about conforming to bylaws, why hasn’t it been a priority to do a followup bylaw check coming into this hearing? The mayor noted that the bylaw officer is busy. Staff noted that Council could add this as a condition that before issuing anything that a bylaw infraction check be done. The bylaw officer noted that she didn’t allow sufficient time to do a check before this meeting, as it appeared quickly on the schedule. Ms. Curtis noted that this should perhaps be part of the process.
Mrs. Lewers asked if a temporary permit would change the taxes charged for the business. Staff noted that assessment was based on use, not on zoning.
On behalf of the business owner, Donna Gray noted that’s it’s been a long two years and they’ve had to deal with a lot of public flogging from both the media and council. She noted that from 2005 to 2015, there was not one complaint made against this property. If it’s been such a horrible thing to live by, why haven’t they been complaining? She also pointed out that she can take a picture of anything and make it look bad. Granted, there are things that need to be cleaned up, but that can happen. She noted that they do their documentation once a year, and their timelines don’t coincide. It doesn’t mean they won’t provide the documentation, it just means they are on a different clock. They are working on the landscaping of the property and investing money into the property. They can’t get things done as quickly as staff wants. The business owners need some downtime, they’ve dealt with a lot of stress over the past few years. She’s tired of the baloney and the malicious comments. They have things to work on. She noted that they have no control over how BC Assessment assigns their taxes. It’s not up to their neighbours, and it’s not up to the business owners. They are paying commercial taxes on the part of the property used for business. With rezoning, they one day may have to pay commercial properties on the whole property. They’ve tried hard, they may not have always done it gracefully, but they are trying. She’s tired, Donna noted. They don’t have a lot of money to throw around, they are hard-working people. She noted that the owner’s entire livelihood is on the line, and she recommended he doesn’t speak. Speaking to other business owners in Sooke, she added, If you’re going to start throwing stones, make sure your business is entirely following the law as well.
Ian also spoke. He lives on the property of the welding shop, and he’s employed by the property. That’s the only place he can work in Sooke.
Justin McCormack of 9541 Sooke Rd. He’s a business owner who is working with the business in question on a stormwater management plan. He noted this takes a lot of work. There’s no plan drawn up yet. He just started working with them. He was unable to give a timeline, be it days, months or years.
Gail Hall noted she’s been sitting in council for a long long time, and this thing has been churning. Previous Councils (the many of them) are responsible for this, and no one ever dealt with it. Past errors have accumulated and become something big and monstrous. There’s been a significant lack of leadership from Council. It’s on you. “I hope you remember that: you are ruining our town.”
Another gentleman, Mr. Labackie came up and spoke in agreement with Mrs. Hall. He noted when this business started, it was done with the support of the District, as demonstrated through the number of times the District has contracted this business. He also noted that the documentation requested by the District is dependent on the availability of others, and it’s out of their control.
Shawn Driver spoke. He said this dates back to when Evan Parliament was CAO. He was invited to apply for a licence, and he was told to leave. He worked for the district for 13 years. Years later, he applied. He was told to present a delegation. He was granted a business licence, which was later revoked. He feels singled out. The goalposts keep on getting moved. He comes out to the District to find a resolution and the goalposts shifts. He’s frustrated, tired, and he feels discriminated against. He’s offered to plant trees. He pays commercial taxes. They’ve taken down dangerous trees. He’s been an open book. He has a personal car collection, that’s not breaking any laws. Rainwater management studies are exorbitantly expensive. He went with an outside company so he couldn’t be accused of showing favouritism. Re Ayum creek, they are not even near the creek. Requiring an engineering report in order to plant trees (eg, $10K to $12K) seems outrageous. He employees people, he pays business taxes, he donates to the community, and he’s done work for the District for 13 years. He’s been an open book since day one. He’s been here trying to solve this problem since day one. The goalposts keep getting moved.
Mayor Tait provided clarification, addressing how things have changed over time, including how Sooke does business (now only with property licenced businesses) and how we treat salmon-bearing creeks. Tait noted that Sooke really as to turn the page and create compliance. Council can’t “un-know” the violations.
Juliana noted they are consumers of local products. They fell in love with Sooke the second they came here. One of the things they love is Sooke’s diversity. That includes the farm followed by the Welder followed by the vet. Let’s “get along and make it work.” Driver recommended that everyone read Articles 23 and 27 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Derek Lewers asked staff if there was ever a cease and desist sent to the property. Staff couldn’t recall offhand. Lewers noted that there was one issued in 2008. Lewers addressed why his parents haven’t filed complaints. He noted that his parents have tried to work things out person to person. The car sales lot proposal was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He then read his closing remarks, which spoke to how much his family has been negatively impacted. Should council approve the business, Lewers is requesting an engineering sound wall, restrict hours, a tree buffer, zero light pollution, no new construction, and more.
Back to Council
THAT Council waive Policy 9.1 Land Use Activities Contrary to Current Bylaws and Resolutions as it relates to the Temporary Use Permit application PLN01437 St-Pierre / Logins, carried unanimously.
Logins noted they’ve been waiting for this application for almost a year now. It should have been in sooner. She does not see care for the environment. She sees the applicant as one who tries to get away with everything. On that note, she moved the motion…
THAT Council refuse the issuance of a Temporary Use Permit PLN01437 for the property legally described as LOT 3, Block 17, Section 64, Plan 2434 Except that Part in Plan 25607 to operate a temporary Vehicle and/or Equipment Repair, Machine Shop, Autobody Paint Shop, Vehicle Sales, Accessory Storage Yard, Accessory Retail Sales.
Seconded by Coun. St-Pierre.
St-Pierre really appreciated Juliana’s comments. He feels for the workers. His hope is that Driver keeps his business going and that the employees stay employed. He is “frustrated as hell” that this has taken so long. He feels that Driver’s ignored timelines and document requests. Had he complied, they may have gotten their temporary use permit. “The community is sick of it.”
Beddows called it a “tough one,” adding that previous councils have been “booting it down the road” and it’s now on this council to deal with this. He noted that there were a number of requirements for the temporary use permit that were not met. He doesn’t want to boot this down the road anymore, and the conditions have not been met. “I’m dealing with here and now.” His position is to support this motion.
Bateman wants to hear the mayor’s statements played back. There have been split votes on this along the way. Council has historically made decisions that moved this along. This is not one of the three types of zoning allowed in Saseenos. The body shop will need to be moved. It’s a complicated matter. “I want people to get along,” adding that he will always go along with what the team advises. Good governance, plus keeping the district out of court. Bateman wants to boot this down the road just a little bit, with a deadline of Oct 25th. He will not be supporting this particular motion.
McMath echoes Bateman’s sentiment. The last two years have been hard on their business, and she understands not wanting to pay 10 thousand for a temporary use permit. “We would love you to stay,” and they would love the environment to be taken care of. Speaking directly to Driver, she noted that there’s a bit of mixed message because his words don’t match his actions.
Beddows said he was torn as well, but just waiting for a few documents, there’s more wrong than just that. Council has not stood up in the past, and it’s time to take a stance. Basically, he says stop kicking this down the road. It’s illegal. It’s non-conforming. It’s as simple as that. Things have not been addressed, more than just the rainwater report. He feels for the Driver’s, Beddows says Driver has been a good corporate citizen.
McMath noted a month and a half is not a game-changer, and this group is not afraid of making tough decisions. What she’s proposing is an 11th-hour opportunity for a valued community member to make good.
St-Pierre agrees with both Beddows and McMath but at the same time feels communication needed to be in place. Kicking it down the road is wasting time. Stringing this out will continue to waste more time. St-Pierre is certain that the business problem will be solved.
Tait noted that if this doesn’t happen, it’s done doing that work on that property. Period. This. Is. It.
Logins agreed with the lack of communication. If it was truly that important, why didn’t the applicant provided what was requested.
CAO noted that on Aug 7 Driver made an appointment with the mayor and Driver made it clear that a rainwater study would not be done. The implication is that kicking it down the road more won’t change the outcome.
McMath and Bateman opposed. The motion is passed.
5. PUBLIC QUESTION AND COMMENT PERIOD
6. NEW BUSINESS