McBride apologizes for Sandown deal remarks

Land deal went through typical process, insists CAO

North Saanich Councillor Conny McBride has apologized to District chief administrative officer Rob Buchan for comments she made on the Sandown land deal process at council’s Oct. 28 committee meeting.

She expressed “extreme regret” for those comments, adding she does not want to “disparage the work or the role of the CAO.” McBride added her comments came over Buchan being listed as the District’s agent in the deal to transfer ownership of most of the former horse racing property to the municipality. Twelve acres of it will be retained by the Randall family for commercial development.

At the Oct. 28 meeting, McBride wanted to know how the CAO and District staff went to Sandown’s owner and the Capital Regional District — with no public input — to have the District’s regional context statement changed to allow the deal. She said there’s no formal plan for development of the 12 acres. McBride also asked who the CAO was representing — the municipality or the property owner.

She also expressed frustration that while it appears the Sandown deal went quickly, other proposals seem to be taking too long.

“If we’re not open for business in allowing developments,” she said at the time, “we should not have four planners in the development department and we should tell every developer … we are not developing anything, so leave.”

Buchan responded at the time that he and staff “absolutely represent the District.”

“We went to the CRD on council’s direction,” he explained. “Council passed first and second reading on the regional context statement and the CRD did approve it.”

Mayor Alice Finall added this all occurred before the municipality went to the CRD to amend its context statement to allow for the Sandown deal back on November, 2011.

Final approval from the CRD, she said, came the following month, but after an estimated six months of work.

Coun. Elsie McMurphy told McBride on Oct. 28 that this process is the same for any land under a development proposal — the District doesn’t own those lands either but follows a similar process.

Buchan added council went through the same process in its approval  of the 9395 East Saanich Rd. development.

Finall, in a later phone call to the News Review, said McBride’s apology was important.

“Three weeks ago,” she explained, “the District amended its respectful workplace policy to coincide with anti-bullying legislation in B.C.”

Finall said the council has to understand that any incident, such as McBride’s comments, might have to be reported to WorkSafe B.C. She added this case probably won’t go that far, as it occurred before the legislation came into effect on Nov. 1.