Although a public hearing about a proposed subdivision in Roberts Creek lasted more than three and a half hours on Sept. 7, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) is required to host another after it was discovered the public was not properly informed of the event.
During the meeting, members of the public asked where the public notice for the hearing had been published. It appeared in the Aug. 27 issues of Coast Reporter, but a second notice – as required by the Local Government Act – did not appear as expected in the Sept. 3 issue due to newspaper staff oversight.
As a result, the comments heard from more than 28 members of the public on Sept. 7 will not be considered as part of the public hearing process, the SCRD’s manager of communications, Aidan Buckley, told Coast Reporter in an email. Written comments will also need to be resubmitted.
A new hearing will be required, and will be held after two public notices are issued through the Coast Reporter and residents who live within 100 metres of the proposed subdivision receive a letter from the SCRD. In cases where the regional district has contact information, the SCRD will also directly contact the people who previously commented by letter or on Sept. 7 to invite them to resubmit their comments.
“The SCRD regrets the fact that there needs to be another public hearing and we are very appreciative of the time already given to public hearings on this project by residents, staff and elected officials,” Buckley said.
The proposal that was the focus of the meeting is for District Lot 1312, a parcel of approximately 40.45 hectares. The application requests amending the Roberts Creek Official Community Plan (OCP) and to rezone the parcel in order to subdivide the land into 12 new rural residential one-hectare lots, and provide a land donation of 26.13 hectares as a community amenity. The proposal also involves extending Porter Road.
Before the meeting, 34 written comments had been in favour of the application. Board chair Lori Pratt confirmed more than 40 letters – which residents at the meeting said were written in opposition – had been received at the SCRD office.
During the virtual meeting, more than 28 members of the public spoke during three rounds of comments. Most, with the exception of a Roberts Creek resident and the landowner’s agent, voiced their opposition to the application.
Members of the public raised concerns about potential impacts to the water and well quality in the area, forest fire potential, emergency evacuation, increased density, and increased traffic.
Residents also spoke about the impact the proposal could have on the OCP, which many cited as part of the reason they chose to live in the area. Some worried about setting a precedent for Roberts Creek, and noted the Roberts Creek Advisory Planning Commission did not recommend supporting the application.
Some members of the public said they would seek legal advice.
Speakers also took issue with the suggested land donation, saying the offered area includes a BC Hydro right-of-way and transmission lines and a leased area for a telecommunication tower.
An alternative plan was presented for the first time at the hearing, and became a focus point of some who felt “blindsided” by the option. The possible alternative suggested moving and reducing the land donation in order to accommodate the 12 lots on 1.75 hectares each.
Senior planning staff said applications do change, and that it was only offered as an alternative to receive public feedback and to show the developer is willing to consider a lower density option. The SCRD board had not yet seen the alternative plan.
Following the hearing, a group on Sept. 13 protested the application at the Harman Road site.