Sechelt council has moved toward rezoning and subdividing Lot L, despite opposition from councillors Mike Shanks and Alice Lutes.
The 3.5 hectare property off Dusty Road was originally purchased by the District for a biosolids handling facility under the previous council.
The current council scrapped that plan for a new sewage treatment plant at Ebbtide and instead opted to use Lot L for a new public works yard since the public works department had to be moved from Ebbtide to make room for the new treatment plant.
The new public works building will use up the easterly 1.9 hectares of Lot L, leaving 1.6 hectares to the west that could be subdivided, rezoned and used for other purposes.
The entire property is currently zoned RR2 and designated for “civic institutional, utilities” in the official community plan. Council is considering rezoning the property to I-7, industrial use.
At the July 9 committee of the whole meeting, councillors Lutes, Shanks, Chris Moore, Tom Lamb and Mayor John Henderson discussed the idea.
Councillors Doug Hockley and Darnelda Siegers were absent from the meeting.
“I have several concerns,” Shanks said. “I have a concern in terms of getting rid of a portion of the property because I think inherently we’re going to find out that we’ve got a shortage of property and would have better use for that some time in the future. A major concern, I guess, is the [septage receiving facility] further up Dusty Road has a lease expiry date of 2031, and how that’s going to be accommodated.”
He also suggested the 1.6 hectare area could become a playing field for the residents of East Porpoise Bay to better serve the community.
“There is in fact to my knowledge no playing field in East Porpoise Bay, and the portion that currently lies underneath the hydro right of way there would be an excellent situation to accommodate that,” Shanks said. “So I have some concerns in terms of taking this to a public hearing at all because I feel we should be holding onto that part [of the property].”
Lamb, however, was in favour of moving the idea forward to public hearing.
“It gives the District of Sechelt a potential to have a piece of property, to have the potential to subdivide it if that becomes necessary, to have the potential to dispense of that if, say, the works yard didn’t go there. Or the District of Sechelt can hold it and have it as an income bearing property and lease it out to whoever,” Lamb said, noting the District already has “three or four potentials there to use that property.”
Lamb pointed to businesses like Deluxe Landscaping and a new medical marijuana facility as possibilities.
But Lutes didn’t feel those were the best uses for the westerly 1.6 hectares of Lot L.
“I think that the District of Sechelt has a lot of uses we could put that property to, if not now, in the near future,” Lutes said. “So I’m not going to vote in favour of this change. We can still have our public works on the one section of the property without going to this extent.”
Moore then moved that an OCP and zoning amendment for Lot L be given first reading and referred to a public hearing.
Henderson said the issue was “complex.”
“There’s always a challenge of making sure we have enough land to do whatever we think we want and to fulfill our fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of the District,” Henderson said, noting he wanted the opportunity to go to public hearing to see what the community wants.
“So I’m in support of the resolutions to take it to first reading and the resulting process that follows from that.”
When the vote was called, Shanks and Lutes were against, while Moore, Lamb and Henderson were in favour, passing the motion in the committee meeting.
The motion then went to the regular council meeting of July 16 where it was ratified by council.
The District has scheduled a public information meeting on Tuesday, July 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the community meeting room at the municipal hall where residents can learn more details about the application.
A public hearing has been scheduled for Tues-day, July 29, at 7 p.m. at the community meeting room.
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