From the July 10 minutes
"The Director of Planning and Development noted that:
- Staff continue to collect feedback.
- Exemptions ensure that only large-scale developments will be subject to the requirements of DPA3.
- The “2000 touchpoints” previously noted by staff refers to instances of individual public interactions about the OCP.
- Step code requirements are mandated by the Province.
- The OCP resembles others because best practices are shared amongst communities.
- The Zoning Bylaw and the OCP are distinct pieces of legislation.
- Council is hearing the views of the public before deciding what amendments are needed.
- More plain language is needed.
- The OCP is intended to be aspirational and costing out its full implementation is not recommended.
- Clarity could be improved by including visual representations of the processes described within the document.
- The staff report answers many of the public's questions at length.
- It is clearer to list exemptions to DPAs than it is to list inclusions because there are fewer exemptions.
- Both staff and community members will be users of the final document.
- Images within the plan indicate concepts on T'Sou-ke land, which should be addressed.
The CAO advised those in attendance that improper conduct would not be tolerated. (Yes, the mood in the room rose in intensity several times, understandable given the full house and raised passions. The Mayor and CAO both needed to remind participants that formal, respectful procedures govern business in council chambers.)
Public Question and Comment Period
- Randy Clarkston (Sooke) requested that Council delay discussion of the OCP until outstanding issues are resolved.
- Scott Miller (Sooke) believes that the draft OCP is flawed, and overly bureaucratic and regulating.
- Debbie Clarkston (Sooke) expressed concern about OCP section 7.1.2, and the terms "foreshore" and "environmentally sensitive" and how they relate to her property.
- Veronica Pemberton (Sooke) objected to the vagueness of the OCP's language, government overreach, absence of costing, and inadequate consultation.
- Susan Belford (Sooke) maintained that the OCP has been under consideration for three years and that its language causes confusion, but a bylaw is needed to prepare for a future of climate change.
- Ted Dawes (Sooke) opposed the OCP’s suggestion of a boardwalk, the language of the OCP, and the level of public consultation undertaken while developing the document.
- Lorraine Pawlivsky-Love (Sooke) was concerned about the 15-m setback and its affect on her property's value.
- Claude Rinfred's (Sooke) concerns about the OCP include its language, its impact on properties and resulting costs to residents.
- Ryan Chamberlain (Sooke) voiced concerns about foreshore use and the 15-m setback.
- John Nicholson (Sooke) is concerned about unresolved issues that the public has with the OCP.
- Ellen Lewers (Sooke) has concerns about net-zero emission buildings and objects to a fully electrified city.
- Karine Bordua (Sooke) is concerned that the OCP is too generic and requested that Council reconsider the OCP."
Minutes of June 19, 2023 Committee of the Whole (pp. 183-188)
Brief summaries of comments from the 30 individuals who spoke that day
Staff report: OCP Input Session Follow-Up (pp. 235-242)
Responses from Sooke's Director of Planning & Development regarding subjects raised on June 19 ...
* Net-Zero Buildings
* 15-Metre Setback Requirements and Exemptions
* Changes to the Development Permit Area Guidelines
* Extension of the Boardwalk/Waterfront Trail
* Regulating T'Sou-ke Lands
* Public Waterfront Access vs. Environmental Protection
* More DPA Guidelines/More Bureaucracy
* Waiting for Provincial (Housing) Guidelines
* Incentivizing Development
* Lot Size for Duplex Exemption
* DPAs: Exemptions vs. Where Applicable
* DPA #1 and the Energy Step Code
* Agricultural Uses and the Agricultural Land Commission
* Affordability of Sewer Expansion
* Census Data
* Community Association Property
* Existing Development Permits
* Building Heights East and West of Ed Macgregor Park
* Consultancy firm DIALOG
* OCP Advisory Committee
* Gateway Residential Commercial Uses
* T'Sou-ke Engagement
* Legal Review
* OCP: Guiding Document and Mandatory Requirements
Update, June 30, 2023
District staff will bring a report on what unfolded two Mondays ago to a regular council meeting on July 10 at 7 PM. It will be followed with another Committee of the Whole session on July 17 dedicated to the OCP. As Mayor Tait said at the outset the other week, this will scheduled for the evening so that folks who could not attend in the afternoon can join us.
To all of council's delight and, given the usual minimal turnout, genuine excitement, council chambers was packed beyond capacity -- all seats taken, standing-room witnesses at the back and sides, and an overflow crowd seated near-by in the Firefighters Lounge, joining us as the main room emptied . I had to park a block away on Amethyst, and walked over chatting with an SUV driver – a waterfront property owner like probably 80% of the audience – who promised me it would be a lively afternoon.
Indeed it was. Fascinatingly and encouragingly so. Many #Sooke voices were heard. Fears about diminished property rights were raised. Misinformation on that subject was busted. Concerns with growth and traffic and quality of life in a rapidly changing community were expressed. Big ideas for the future and personal histories of lives well led in Sooke were shared. Bravo for all that, and wonderful to have these new perspectives added to the stack of public input received over the last two years.
The lead front-page story in the Victoria Times Colonist the next day was headlined Sooke waterfront property owners pack meeting to speak against development restrictions. (The article was accompanied by an East Sooke waterfront photo in the print edition, corrected online). Mayor Tait is quoted at the outset stating there is no intent whatsoever to expropriate oceanfront land for a boardwalk or any other purpose. The reporter reached out for comment to Randy Clarkston, author of the contentious chain emails that triggered such a SRO turnout, but didn’t hear back from him by press time. No follow-up story has been published to date.
Watch the replay here.
Quoting the Mayor is always worthwhile, so I'll share, though direct quotes and paraphrases, a sampling of her opening comments as she clearly, calmly set the tone for the meeting with a blame-free, we're-in-this-together invitation to continue this latest example of living/breathing democracy.
- The OCP process: "This is not a rabbit trying to win a race, this is the turtle wanting to do it well for the benefit of all of us, and we’ll take our time to make sure we have something we can all, together, be confident in."
- BC Ministry of Housing's promised new legislation affecting local governments is expected in the late fall, and it will have definite impacts on OCPs across the province.
- "I want to make it clear at no point does council intend to expropriate anyone’s property."
- "With the last development that came forward (Seacliffe Properties, May 23), we heard from members of the public who expressed their desire to have access to the water. To be able to access it, recreate, see it and to enjoy it. Certainly as properties come forward through rezoning or development permit, those are questions we ask and asked of staff." [She then offered two earlier large-scale examples: The Prestige Hotel development application (2010) and the Mariner's Village CD-7 zoning (2009), both of which, through the negotiated permitting process, provide the public with current and future waterfront access.]
- "There has been a desire by members of the community to see an expanded marine trail or to see the boardwalk expand throughout our community. That is not even present in our Five Year Financial Plan." [I later in the meeting mentioned that this community vision has been around since at least 2004, to my knowledge; I first heard about it as a new resident when then-Mayor Evans was door-knocking during her re-election campaign. This long-term Sooketopian dream lives on, in reflecting more recent public input, as an aspirational dotted line in the Parks & Trails Master Plan, circling the harbour from Whiffin Spit to Kaltasin. One for future generations to consider.]
- "What we don’t have the ability to do is raise a boardwalk out of the water that has been unbudgeted, unplanned for and unpermitted ... This is not something we can just do just because we’re your local government. Your land is important to us, just as I’m sure you’re all very protective and concerned over your property rights. And naturally we agree with that ...
- "However if land assembly were to occur and six (waterfront) properties were acquired and somebody wanted to put up a condominium … or another hotel … or another large building" ... development permit area guidelines would apply ... and "certainly we’d hear from members of the public who would want access to the water and (would, like council, be asking) what are the amenities and how would the community benefit? Those are things that we are trying to achieve as our town grows and redevelops and as we welcome new people into our community."
PS I must note that Mr. Clarkston immediately follow-up with another email to his list the day after on June 20. (I'm not on this list, but a copy was sent to council.) He doubled down on his earlier comments and again took no responsibility for entirely failing to mention Development Permit Area guideline exemptions which clearly state that that DPAs only apply to those building four-home-or-more subdivisions in Sooke. I trust citizens do their own homework and pay due heed to the words of their three-times elected Mayor.
[PPS You'll likely by now have heard about the Huggett Report, a recent state of the DOS nation overview commissioned by Sooke council late last year. It was prepared by Surrey-based consultant Jonathan Huggett, a highly experienced, respected and well-connected engineer and project manager (including Victoria's Blue Bridge-replacement and the Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena, a reorganization of West Shore Parks & Recreation, and Vancouver's SkyTrain system and Lions Gate Bridge refurbishment).
A redacted copy of this report was released via a Freedom of Information request following the District's late-April summary report. i don't know how many have seen this necessarily (and not heavily) blacked-out version of what we received in-camera, but certainly it was shared widely and led to an article and editorial regarding its recommendations in our local paper. It also generated coverage elsewhere.
Catnip for the small coterie of critics, of course, who were keen to suggest Sooke had/has joined the ranks of dysfunctional municipalities in BC. Which is definitely NOT the case, I for one will confidently state. Imperfect, yes, of course, but the District is packed with talented professionals ... guided by first-rate master plans, policies and bylaws developed through substantial public input ... and directed by, I'll unsurprisingly claim, a council team that cares deeply about being good stewards for this evolving community we all love.
Yet this being politics, I naturally accept that not everyone agrees based on whatever received or direct information they've gathered, and bully for you. Democracy for the win.
As the District's own summary (signed off on by council, incidentally) stated, "Mr. Huggett's findings, while not surprising, provide value through a third-party affirmation of the direction of the District of Sooke operations."
1. Yes, we're in the process of hiring a new CAO to replace Norm McInnis while also respecting and honouring the excellent work being done by our Deputy CAO and Chief Financial Officer Raechel Gray in his absence.
2. Council will develop our 2023-26 Strategic Plan in collaboration with the new CAO later this year.
3. Bullying and harassment (which goes back to at least 2010 and led to the District being an early adopter of now-commonplace policies) is always possible wherever/whenever humans gather. Corporate culture and wellness initiatives continue to be offered at the DOS by respected team-builders and personal growth experts such as Sara Wegwitz and George Boelcke. Sadly, some measure of inter-personal bullying is a thing in local governments as much as is the case, in equally unpredictable and varying degrees, at some companies, businesses, schools, building sites, community groups and society at large.) Definition: "Willful, repeated aggressive behaviour with negative intent used by one person to maintain power over another ... It can be verbal, physical, psychological or social. It can happen in person or online. It can either be really obvious or it can be hidden from others. It can be an individual person doing the bullying or a group of people who have greater power over someone else."
4. Sooke's pending OCP has, in fact, been unfolding through a best-practice four-part process as per Mr. Huggett's recommendation. Council signed off on each stage while still leaving the work to the OCP Advisory Committee, staff, consultants and the general public.
5. The District's organizational chart will be analyzed for strengths, weaknesses and possible revisions by our next CAO, just as it annually was by previous CAOs. The Development Permit Approval review process, for one, clearly acknowledges the problem of siloed responsibilities here as much as in other jurisdictions.
6. High-level costs (in 2020 dollars) for priority recommendations are included with both the Transportation and Parks & Trails Master Plans. As the case wlth the Otter Point and Church Rd. upgrades and the design blueprints for the Throup-Grant Road bypass, business cases, costs and contingencies are developed according to current Strategic Plan priorities. If too rich for the District, then the projects would not have nor will proceed past budget discussions. Future councils can make their own calls on trying to advance and fund OCP and master plan-identified priorities as they see fit while following legislative process.
But yes, definitely, I'm interested in learning more about how the District does develop its business cases and how these compare to best-practices elsewhere. From what I've seen, other OCPs do not include cost estimates alongside recommended actions.
Original post: June 18, 2023 With this jazz-era classic playing in the background, I'm preparing for tomorrow afternoon's Official Community Plan relaunch at what promises to be a lively Committee of the Whole starting at 1 PM in Municipal Chambers. District staff plan to prepare a report with their recommendations/responses to what we hear for the July 10 (7 PM) council meeting. Further public input will be possible and welcome at that time as always with anything on the agenda. As the flowchart at the bottom of this post indicates, there will likely be another OCP public hearing at a minimum given that council as a whole recognizes amendments are required.
Key reference points ...
* June 19 COW agenda (see staff report regarding the OCP's four-stage process, public input since 2020 and themes raised in the latest 141 public submissions included with this agenda, pp. 19-25)
* June 19 supplemental agenda (additional correspondence received in recent days)
* Proposed OCP Bylaw #800 (unchanged since the Public Hearing of Sept. 27, 2022)
* Staff report on next steps for the OCP in the April 11, 2023 council agenda (pp. 67-71)
* Sept. 27, 2022 OCP Public Hearing agenda + video + minutes (replicated in full below)
* Picture Sooke OCP website page (with reports from the four-stage public engagement)
And some links to revisit my own evolving thoughts. I'm sure I've delivered some fuzzy, under-informed/educated thinking along the way, but i have done my learning in plain if necessarily (for me) wordy sight here. Three little words, let alone 3,000, are never quite enough ...
* OCP Public Hearing Preview (Sept. 27, 2022)
* Next Step for the Official Community Plan (Sept. 7, 2022)
* Draft OCP: My Appreciative Inquiry (Oct. 20, 2021)
* OCP Update - Fall 2021 (Sept. 4, 2021)
* Team OCP: Introducing the Advisory Committee (Aug. 8, 2020)
* Masterplanning Sooke's Smart Growth: OCP Preview (Dec. 20, 2019)
I've visited this Readers Digest article a few times in recent weeks: "25 Insightful Quotes That Inspire Peaceful Persistence." (e.g., “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” — Confucius)
Turning to tomorrow's agenda, it's disappointing to report that fully 80 percent of the correspondence (117 of the 141 submissions) is based on a single source of viral misinformation (emailed, affixed to post boxes and announced on our town's infamous roadside business sign) from one Sooke influencer. See this chain letter in the agenda on pg. 283. It doubles down on a similar campaign waged last year. That misread was addressed by council and staff back then, and yet now it has rebounded without a hint that any of that feedback landed.
The staff report on agenda pg. 22 thoroughly addresses the letter's assertions, clearly stating again that the DPAs ONLY (large/loud caps) apply to new subdivisions of four or more homes, not existing home. In addition, there are multiple other exemptions that allow homeowners (no matter where they're located in town) to undertake renovations, do yard and garden work, construct retaining walls, etc. entirely as they fit and whenever they wish given building permits where required.
I'm sharing screenshots below of the OCP's two DPA exemption pages (pp. 178-79). As stated on page 175: "The flexibility of DPA guidelines allow Council to fairly exercise its discretion in granting or refusing a permit on a case by case basis, while providing objective principles to guide Council’s conditions for approving or refusing a DP application."
The development permit process addresses OCP implementation issues involving:
- the form and character of new commercial and mixed development, multi-family residential development, intensive residential development, and industrial development;
- the revitalization of an area in which commercial uses are permitted;
- protection of the natural environment, its ecosystems and biological diversity;
- protection of development from hazardous conditions;
- promotion of energy and water conservation; and
- promotion of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The current (2010) OCP critically includes a set of DPA guidelines, as did the 2001 version. In my experience, these guidelines came into play effectively last year when council was considering the development permit with variances request from WestUrban re: its two mixed-use commercial/residential buildings planned for the west side of Brownsey Blvd. (see Nov. 28, 2022 council agenda, pp. 99-131.)
In that and other cases, the DPA criteria served as an analytical tool by which staff, and in this case council too, could rate the developer's project against OCP-certified community standards. The DPAs within OCPs (or, as is the case in some municipalities, their Zoning Bylaws) rightfully gives local governments a hand in shaping the future built environment.
For some unfathomable reason, the writer entirely fails to mention the DPA exemptions in the letter circulated so widely. As a result, waterfront owners are expressing justifiable anger, and that indeed is "no good" for Sooke. [One correspondent writes that the OCP is "tantamount to theft ... disastrous unethical legislation ... I am beyond disgusted by this ... shame on you ... do not expect that we will take this without a fight." Others talk of "shock and betrayal" ... the District is "draconian and deceptive" ... "OCP Bylaw #800 is a veiled attempt at expropriation without compensation" ... persistent use of the phrase "blatant land grab."]
In an earlier email, the writer states that the District plans to acquire all waterfront as per the dotted-line "aspirational trail" running along the water's edge from Whiffin Spit to Kaltasin in the Parks and Trails Master Plan. That document states (pg. 25, item 4.7): "Strive to acquire land for trails as opportunities arise on District projects and new developments, per the proposed trails on Map 2." There is no reference to expropriating private land in the OCP or any of the master plans. With new development incoming, it's to be hoped that a town-centre boardwalk connecting to the Rotary Pier might one day stretch from Mariner's Village to Ed Macgregor Park or possibly the Government Wharf.
No "land grab," to again quote our provocateur, has ever been suggested to my knowledge in this OCP cycle nor has there been a single council discussion about it in my experience.
One of the most telling statements I've heard recently: "98% of tensions in any community are down to poor communications and miscommunication." (This quote from one of the excellent candidates to be Sooke's next Chief Administrative Officer. I believe all of us on council agree that she/he/they must be hired and settled in before we develop our 2023-2026 Strategic Plan and proceed much further with the OCP. This would show due respect to the District's top professional and council's one-and-only hire.)
Sincere thanks then to everyone for submitting new correspondence, which now joins the wealth of earlier submissions found in the reports on the Let's Talk Sooke OCP page. Since the first OCP Advisory Committee Zoom meeting on Sept. 30, 2020, there have been 39 more public meetings, stakeholder workshops, community pop-ups and formal council and COW meetings on the subject. (During and after COVID, it's true, but we're not the only local government to have moved forward with an OCP during lockdowns. Important also to realize that OCP development in every municipality typically attracts modest yet always meaningful public input. No different here as anywhere else in Canada.)
Tomorrow will be the 41st such public meeting on this OCP. I'm looking forward to a full house even given the hour of the day. As stated at outset, more input will be possible on the evening of July 10 and at a future public hearing.
For now, appreciation to the following for input that largely if not always deliver on council's explicit request to include chapter/verse references from the OCP for context. In order of agenda appearance:
- 606 Water Group (re: watershed protection; pp. 5-7)
- Aragon Properties (seeking a CD designation for Nott Brook and suggesting multiple uses for the east side of Otter Point Rd. across from the Municipal Hall comparable to its Esquimalt Town Square project; pg. 285)
- Johnny Wright (preservation of wildlife corridors; pg. 287-325)
- Debbie Clarkston (various concerns minus OCP page references, pg. 353-355)
- Susan Belford (a thorough look at and appreciation of the DPA guidelines; pp. 358-361)
- Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce (supports "revisions that promote development, sustainable growth, waterfront access and tourism" yet minus OCP page references; pg. 375-376)
- Katherine Parsons (add language re: protection of natural resources and the environment, including Sooke's coastline west of the harbour and basin; pg. 387-398)
- Concerned Citizens of Sooke (OCP intent, density issues - visible and hidden, removal of all DPAs; pp. 410-415)
- Kevin Neish (sharing a BC Land Title & Survey historical backgrounder on town-centre tent lots; pp. 477-528)
- Scott Miller (comments on DPA 3 - Foreshore Area; pp. 43-49)
- Sooke Builders Association (with its substantial analysis of the Development Permit Area guidelines; pp. 111-119)
- Cathy VanAlstyne/Peter Carr (density concerns, infrastructure capacity, Hwy 14 traffic; pg. 127)
The "decision-tree" shared by staff and posted below displays the best-practice route forward in making amendments and scheduling another public hearing prior to third reading and adoption.
Or perhaps another approach is possible. During the election, I answered as follows to the question "what changes would you support in the draft OCP?" posed at the Community Hall candidates conversation last Oct. 11.
<clip from here>
(I spent the first part of my two allotted minutes responding in the moment to Elections for Change candidate Rob Anderson, who one speaker before me had begun answering this question by holding up his lighter, sparking a flame and saying something along the lines of how he'd like to torch it entirely. Mostly kept my cool, I hope, while later laughing aloud to myself at this master class in political theatre. Then back to my notes for an abbreviated answer ....)
"I’m largely content with the OCP as it stands. The next council, I imagine, will conduct another round of public input and EXPERT stakeholder input atop the 28-month labour of professional and public input.
A main outstanding source of concern are the Development Permit Guidelines. Personally, I like the idea of a task force comprised of staff, a councillor and a set of diverse stakeholders based on the criteria used to assemble this last term's Land Use and Development Committee -- namely reps from the land development, home builder, business, agricultural, environmental & climate change, and oceans and fisheries communities in Sooke. Their job would be to review and fine-tune the current recommended Development Permit Guidelines for inclusion in either the OCP itself or the new Zoning Bylaw that will follow its adoption.
To axe the guidelines entirely, as some have suggested, doesn’t make sense to me, not after seeing how effective the current set of them is proving as staff and the developer negotiate over the west-side of Brownsey Boulevard. How else can a community ensure that the form and character of our built environment matches community wishes?
(The timer's stop sign went up about now, so I had to hold back on the second part of my pre-digested answer)
Also I wonder whether maximum density in the Community Residential designation – i.e., the sewered parts of Sooke -- should be less than the proposed 70 units per hectare.
No question, the policy directions in the OCP – which call for density in the town centre and only there – will control this potentially heavy density ... as will the new Zoning Bylaw with its site-specific zoning indicating precisely where denser development might be located (logically on major road corridors served by mass transit.)
Yet I wonder if perhaps we should reduce this number outside the town centre designations. I would sincerely hate to see a development-minded council elected here who would then have the tools to transform us into a denser urban environment – which is exactly what the OCP input tells us we don’t want to be."
I suggested this task-force approach to the DPAs at the April 11 meeting but didn't get any uptake. I'll mention it again tomorrow. I'll also suggest that the 120 items in the Action Plan be prioritized so that this council can consider top OCP-identified needs in our Strat Plan for consideration during the annual budget process. It'll be up to future councils, of course, to determine how they wish to proceed in identifying their own priorities.
Reading other modern OCPs is a useful exercise, too, in trying to find the sweet spots for our own. Ladysmith's new Official Community Plan, for instance, features an richly nuanced implementation section (pp. 131 onward).
One example (pg. 132) ...
"PRIORITIES AND TRADE-OFFS: From time to time, the Town may be faced with competing priorities, whether it be the result of a capital project, development application, or other opportunity. In these circumstances – and unless there is a clear imperative suggesting otherwise – the following OCP goals should take priority over others (in no particular order):
- Reduce community greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and be on track to reduce emissions by 75% by 2040, and reach net zero emissions by 2049
- Walk the path of reconciliation
- Be a place where people from all walks of life can call home, with access to affordable and appropriate housing
- Concentrate growth in Priority Growth Areas in support of the three priorities noted above as well as the broader OCP goals.
These priorities are based on strong community input for urgent action."
Another (pg. 142) explicitly lists what Ladysmith wants in the way of community amenity contributions from incoming developers. This kind of clarity is exactly what's been requested by developers, and I don't see it in our new OCP.
"The following contributions are examples of community contributions that may be appropriate, depending on the circumstances and in no particular order:
- Infrastructure improvements in excess of what is needed to support the development (e.g. extended sidewalk connection).
- Contribution of land for a civic or institutional use (e.g. school or recreation facility).
- Provision of special needs housing or affordable housing.
- Improvements to public facilities or public buildings.
- Heritage conservation.
- Provision of parkland or park improvements (e.g. bike skills park).
- Provision of or improvements to a trail or active transportation corridor.
- Protection of environmentally significant areas.
- Public realm improvements (i.e. public plaza, pedestrian and cycling linkages).
- Contribution of land for the purpose of watershed protection.
- Provision of cash for the above or similar examples."
The matter of density is confusing. The plan identifies (pg. 60) a "maximum density" of 70 units per hectare in the Community Residential designation (i.e., the sewered area outside the Town Centre and Town Centre Transitional areas). It also, a little paradoxically, indicates this area is to experience "low-to-medium" growth.
This has caused considerable fear that much of Sooke will be blanketed by this kind of extreme (for our town) density. To cite one example, the Concerned Citizens of Sooke (Butler, Clarkston, McClimon, Saunders) states that the plan would allow "seven families and 14 parking stalls per 1/4 acre lot" in sewered areas outside the core. That kind of crowding is simply nuts and would entirely betray spirit/intention/proposed policies of the current and new OCPs.
What's been missed to date is a clear statement (within the document, not issued verbally by staff and consultants) that the new zoning bylaw that will follow this OCP will identify, through public input, EXACT spots on the map where this density could be possible, i.e. I imagine these would be corners at significant intersections along major corridors well-served by transit. (To cite one of dozens of examples, the Oak Bay zoning map does exactly this.)
Also needed: A three-dimensional modelling map of the town centre that would identify where we might see future six-storey buildings, clustered very likely on the north side of Sooke Road between Gatewood and Church. Or not! We are all increasingly visual learners and need images like this to grok what's proposed.
I've griped about this before in public meetings and yet still no traction: The document needs to properly acknowledge itself as Sooke's third OCP since incorporation while also identifying how it picks up on the major threads in the 2010 and 2001 models. It could also even look back to CRD Area Plans of bygone decades to see how they too align with the new document.
I've now, at last, surrendered to the fact that "Sooke Smart Growth," a defining phrase in the current OCP, will not be cited in the new one. I must have mentioned how I highly rate the emblematic resonance and clarity of intent of these other little words at least a half-dozen times to consultants and staff these last 36 months. Like the current OCP, which doesn't get a single solitary mention in the new version, this phase has been seemingly deemed by Gen Next staffers and consultants as prehistoric and no longer au fait. That was then, this is now, and so be it I suppose. (Incidental note: This paragraph is my way of saying i'm still pissed off about how I've been unheard/ignored on a small matter that I failed to solidify with a notice of motion.)
Meanwhile, I will continue to re-read the OCP Steering Committee's Preamble (pp. 4-7) and repeatedly remind myself that this new OCP, in fact, does capture, with a substantial action plan, the following key themes identified by the public:
1. The strong desire to maintain and enhance the unique character of Sooke
2. The importance of protecting our natural environment
3. The need for focused growth and support for infrastructure enhancements in the Town Centre
4. The importance of building upon and enhancing Sooke's historic and productive relationship with the T'Sou-ke
5. The need for improved transportation infrastructure and strategies to address vehicular congestion
6. Our community's united support for collective efforts to address climate change.
Minutes from the Sept. 27, 2022 OCP Public Hearing
"Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 800, 2022: The Mayor provided an overview of the proceedings for the meeting and reviewed the steps that have led to the Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 800, 2022, arriving at this public hearing.
Public Input (35 speakers):
- William Wallace, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour, specifically supporting the protection of parks and agricultural lands.
- Alan Dolan, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour, acknowledging the importance of development, and the need to improve safe pedestrian connectivity, noting that resistance to the approval of the OCP seemingly comes from those reluctant to view the effect of climate change.
- Susan Clarke, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour of encouraging the approval of the OCP to assist the future Council with solid steps towards a commitment to action climate change initiatives.
- Kief Elliott, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour noting that he participated in most of the engagement opportunities and advised that bylaws would be reviewed to harmonize with the OCP once adopted, providing additional opportunities for discussion and debate on the effects of individual issues.
- Malcolm McNaughton, a Langford resident, spoke in opposition as the document is missing feasibility and cost impacts, suggesting that further analysis and consultation are required in advance of approval.
- Patrick Marsden, a Saanich resident, spoke in opposition as the bylaw will negatively impact the building and development community.
- Lily Ma-Sen, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour offering appreciation for the committees' work on the document and supporting the land use policies, as they will encourage town core growth.
- Keith Rimstad, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour suggesting there are details that can be finalized once a guide has been created and that no plan will address all concerns for the community.
- Chris Moss, an Otter Point resident, spoke in favour advising that no one document can accurately predict or plan the future and that the guidelines included in the current version are more than adequate to support the community.
- Michael Thorton, a developer in the community, spoke in opposition to the bylaw, specifically the financial impacts on developers.
- Roland Alcock, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour of providing support for adoption as the plan displays a commitment to climate change mitigation and addressing transportation challenges.
- Brian Butler, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition to restrictive land use designations, impacts on development, and a requirement for further consultation.
- Susan Belford, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour of supporting the culmination and careful consultation undertaken with a broad spectrum of the community, the clear and concise policies, advising that the OCP needs to be for the people who live in the community, not just those who build in it.
- Jeff Zigay, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition citing concerns related to the lack of cost impact estimates associated with implementation and the lack of current town core development, even though the previous OCP also encouraged core growth.
- Karine Bordua, a Langford resident, spoke in opposition to the costs associated with the implementation of the plan and concerns with several areas which seemingly limit resiliency.
- Doug Bexson, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition as the document goes beyond guidance offering limited flexibility through prohibiting language.
- Gisela Kumar, a Sooke resident (via written submission read aloud by Ellen Lewers), expressed opposition as the community does not require an increase in high-density housing but rather should encourage residents to consider limiting their impact on the area.
- Ellen Lewers, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition encouraging reduced development to maintain a small-town appeal.
- Steve Anderson, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition, suggesting public engagement was not adequate and the plan is an unbalanced representation of the community’s vision.
- Ramsay Milne, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition, citing difficulty in the general understanding of language utilized in the document and the associated delays and cost impacts of the proposed Development Permit process.
- Rob Anderson, an Otter Point resident, spoke in opposition, reiterating previous comments and concerns about the consequences associated with the proposed policies.
- Ryan Chamberland, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition, suggesting a delay in approval and reinvesting in conversations with the community on the plan.
- Herb Haldane, an Otter Point resident, spoke in opposition, stating that the document is idealistic and radical, and will create divisiveness.
- Mick Rhodes, an Otter Point resident, spoke in opposition, noting there is no mention of waterfront access.
- Helen Ritts, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour, providing an overview of the comprehensive public engagement undertaken by the committee, consultants, and staff, to ensure community voices were heard and encouraged Council to move the plan forward.
- Jay Ryan, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition, citing the lack of quality consultation due to the pandemic.
- Scot Taylor, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition, suggesting additional public input be undertaken in advance of approval and that there was not enough consultation with the First Nations.
- Dave Saunders, a Colwood resident, spoke in opposition, with concerns about density and that the unintended consequences of implementing this plan should be examined.
- Don Brown, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition, stating that implementation will mean applying rules rather than principles and as they are written will create an adversarial process rather than a collaborative approach.
- Eliane Hamel, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition, with concerns with the consultation being undertaken during the pandemic, and questioned the deliverables and cost impacts.
- Anna Russell, an Otter Point resident, spoke in favour, noting that the current OCP does not meet the needs of the community and a new plan is required.
- Robin Holm, a Sooke resident, spoke in favour, supporting the new plan and advising that changes can be made along the way if required, it's not set in stone.
- Cindy Ross, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition, suggesting additional consultation is required and expressing concerns with Development Permit Areas.
- Natalia Saddington, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition highlighting the cost impacts associated with the heavy climate action initiatives.
- Lorraine Pawlivsky-Love, a Sooke resident, spoke in opposition suggesting further community consultation and cautioned rushing to the adoption with a divide in the community."
* Clarity regarding cost impacts associated with climate goals and proposed initiatives.
* The Master Plans, adopted by Council and in use for planning the community, are in place and utilized for projects such as traffic and parks.
* Concern that the OCP is a significantly large document with a multitude of layers, which is not easily read cover to cover, and that this has led to some confusion among readers.
* Desire to conduct further engagement with enhanced communication to the public, to ensure all affected parties are afforded the opportunity to fully discuss the impacts and enhancements the document contains.
& Reminder that the OCP is a visionary document, and the removal of the Development Permit Areas (DPA) will not be a quality revision worth consideration.
* Concerns with the financial impacts of implementation are unknown.
* More time is needed to provide education on the development processes, to ensure everyone fully understands the requirements and associated outcomes.
* Appreciation was offered to the members of the public who attended and provided their comments.
MOVED by Councillor Al Beddows, seconded by Councillor Tony St-Pierre: THAT Council close the public hearing and do not consider 3rd reading of the bylaw; AND THAT the bylaw, public input, and minutes from all meetings will be presented to the new Council for their consideration.
CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY In Favour: Mayor Maja Tait, Councillor Jeff Bateman, Councillor Al Beddows, Councillor Ebony Logins, Councillor Megan McMath, Councillor Tony St-Pierre, and Councillor Dana Lajeunesse