Community plan meetings underway in Queen Charlotte

  • Jun. 5, 2009 8:00 p.m.

By Jeff King–Queen Charlotte’s advisory commission on the official community plan held its first public meeting Wednesday, and has two more ready to roll, one Saturday morning, another Wednesday evening. Last Wednesday, half a dozen village residents turned out to learn about the plan and to offer their input. The plan is required by the province and will form the basis for zoning and land use bylaws, and “is a long range, comprehensive general policy guide for using land,” according to the village. At Wednesday’s meeting, the first question was about the length of the public input process.”It has taken three years to come up with this. You have a series of three meetings in seven days,” JoAnne Ames said, “This is kind of the last kick at the cat for people, that’s how I perceive this. Do you feel that is adequate?” “Yes, the people who are interested will participate,” Advisory Planning Commission chair Clyde Greenough said. He also said that earlier focus groups were very constructive, adding “we are not here to tell what is going to happen. We are not here to say ‘no’. We are here to listen.” The plan document-in draft form-is 86 pages long, and devotes considerable space to explaining how village land will be categorized, for example, into Residential-Rural, Residential-Single Family or Commercial-General. While some buildings will find themselves, after zoning bylaws are enacted by council, in a zone that doesn’t fit-a commercial building in a residential zone, for example,- the existing use will be ‘grandfathered’, according to village officials. “There’s a lot of grandfathering that is going to go on”, said Eunice Ludlow, the village’s chief administrative officer, who is not on the advisory commission, but who attended the meeting. “(Grandfathering) is used in municipalities, if something existed before the bylaw was created, it remains,” Ms Ludlow said. Resident Al Cowan had several questions and points to raise. Among them, as an example, he noted that his house has a contained basement suite that could be a mother-in-law suite, a rental unit or a bed and breakfast.”Will my house now be changed to commercial?” Is someone going to come and look in my window and say ‘this person should be assessed as commercial?”, he said, adding “(does) a person have to go to the village to get permission to have a bed and breakfast? A mother-in-law suite? What I am talking about right now doesn’t fit (the single family residential designation).” Mr. Cowan was reminded that the plan document says ‘draft’ on every page, and the commission is holding the meetings to get input and make changes. “We need to add in rental suites and small-scale B and Bs,” commission member Ruth Wheadon said. Discussion also included ensuring that rental accommodation continues to be available. “It’s important to realize there are people.who cannot afford an apartment. It’s not affordable for them to be renting a unit of their own,” JoAnne Ames said, “we have to be careful as a community not to prevent a variation of choices. Some people can only afford one bedroom with an attached bathroom.” Al Cowan questioned the fairness of the garbage and water systems. “I am not happy as a single occupant, paying a fixed rate,” he said, while Mr. Greenough said metering would take care of the water issue, and Terry Tollestrup asked “in future, we have to apply for a permit to run a bed and breakfast?” “Yes,” Ms Ludlow replied. Non-resident owners also came up for discussion. “We were advised not to say ‘no off-island ownership’, Ms Wheadon said, talking about a clause that forbids hotels from being turned into private residences or time-share properties. “I suggest you revisit it,” Fran Fowler said, “that (clause) is weird.” “The time share thing kind of got us. We didn’t like that,” Mr. Greenough said.”(Off-islanders) do contribute while they are here,” JoAnne Ames said, “you have to be a bit careful about how you handle them. You can penalize those people for being off island owners through the tax base.”She also said she’d encourage non-resident owners to stay here longer.”Bring them into our community If we have an attitude of penalizing those people, it will segregate them. I don’t think that’s good,” she said.Other discussion included public access to the ocean, disposing of old vehicles, developing a seawalk (“I see that Carol has not given up” said Ms Ames), gray water systems, ATV access to the foreshore and the possibility of a bylaw banning or controlling nuisances such as noise and odours. The commission’s final two meetings are as follows; Saturday, 10 am and Wednesday, 7:30 pm, both in the Eric Ross room at the QC hall. The draft plan will then be turned over to council, reviewed by several agencies, and then adopted as the village’s official community plan. The advisory planning commission is composed of Clyde Greenough, Ruth Wheadon, Keith Moore, Jacques Morin and Bruce Ives. Council’s liaison is councillor Kris Olsen.

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