TRA takes District of Sechelt to court

Christine Wood Staff Writer / Staff writer
March 21, 2014 01:00 AM

The District of Sechelt is being taken to court by the Tuwanek Ratepayers' Association (TRA), which claims the District wrongfully issued a development permit for Eden Pacific.

The TRA also claims that approving officer Ray Parfitt was acting "beyond the powers granted under the Land Title Act," when he approved a preliminary review of the subdivision.

The 35-lot strata subdivision is located at the foot of Mount Richardson above Tuwanek. It was first pitched in 2007 as 35 one-acre lots with individual septic systems. That plan failed Vancouver Coastal Health's requirements for septic treatment.

In 2012 the proposal was revised to include 35 clustered lots on 14 hectares with the remaining 18 hectares left as open space. The new plan also included a private package sewage treatment plant located on the west end of the property.

In August 2013, a majority vote of council passed the development permit Eden Pacific needed, with Coun. Chris Moore noting, "It seems that this community has a propensity to always find a way to put the brakes on stuff. Nothing in life is perfect, but let's go with this."

In order to address concerns with steep slopes and the package sewage treatment plant, Parfitt noted a preliminary layout review was issued with "a lot of conditions that they have to meet in terms of off-site servicing and upgrades and what-have-you."

On Feb. 14 the TRA filed their lawsuit against the District and Parfitt in B.C. Supreme Court.

The TRA is looking for a quashing of the bylaws that allow Eden Pacific to build, saying the decisions made by council and Parfitt are "beyond the powers" afforded to them.

The petition says that Parfitt "exceeded his jurisdiction" when he gave preliminary approval "of new lots which are below the minimum size required by the zoning bylaw" and official community plan (OCP).

The petition also claims the subdivision "exceeds the allowable density," for the area.

In addition the lawsuit alleges "Sechelt has not amended its OCP bylaw so as to allow a private package treatment plant on the property. As such, the development permit purports to permit a sewage treatment system, which is contrary to the OCP bylaw."

In their response to the claim, the District denies any wrongdoing of council or staff, saying no regulatory bylaws have been breached, and note that an OCP "is not a regulatory bylaw.""The Tuwanek Ratepayers Association have taken us to court saying we didn't follow the exact letter of the law according to how it is spelled out in the OCP for development area five, and we're saying that we did," Parfitt said. "So that's basically where it's at right now."

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