The West Sechelt Community Association (WSCA) recognizes the importance of a new zoning bylaw to replace one that is decades old. What is problematic for the members is the hastened and abbreviated consultation process. Zoning is one of the most powerful tools for a municipality and affects everything (property use, water, sewer, traffic to name a few). One would hope that it is undertaken with due diligence and thoughtful consideration of the ramifications.
This does not appear to be the case for Bylaw 580.
Rather, in a recent meeting with community members, the mayor and council were clear that the (pre-election) deadline for finalizing the regulations is non-negotiable.
We ask again “What’s the rush?” The mayor and council may want to be seen as following through on a commitment (updating zoning, addressing a housing shortage) but it is coming across, once again, that consultation is merely a “tick the box” item. A single open house and two Zoom meetings, all in the same week, are not sufficient to generate community comprehension and support for the proposed changes.
Bylaw 580 is a significant and complex land use document and the proposed changes are major for West Sechelt residents. As every residential property will be rezoned via this bylaw, residents need a clear understanding of what this will mean as these new regulations will affect them for years to come.
The proposed R2 will permit three dwelling types on less than a quarter acre. This will impact residents’ quality of life when combined with the potential for accessory dwellings to be used for short term residential rentals (STRs). Additionally, the general use provisions on STRs, urban agriculture, and cannabis production have not been clearly explained as to how they will be integrated into Bylaw 580. Let’s not tinker with this bylaw. Let’s get it right before enacting. And, most importantly, let’s have a real consultation process.
Catherine Hanson, On behalf of the West Sechelt Community Association Executive