Using her power under the Community Charter, North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall asked council at its June 24 special meeting to reconsider its assent of three bylaws that set the stage for small lot developments in the community.
Like the initial vote taken on the bylaws by council on June 10, however, the outcome was the same.
“I’m surprised that you’re bringing this back,” said Councillor Dunstan Browne, who with councillors Ted Daly, Craig Mearns and Connie McBride had voted in favour of the trio of bylaws earlier in the month.
“There’s no evidence of any councillor having a change of heart in the matter,” Browne continued.
He noted that councillors Celia Stock, Elsie McMurphy and Finall have opposed the changes at every turn.
The controversial bylaws that were approved on June 10, and again this week, define and allow small lot residential development that could increase housing density. One amends the official community plan to allow it. Another changes the district’s zoning bylaw for property at 9395 East Saanich Rd. — where developers have proposed 40 residential units on small lots. The third is an authorization of a phased development agreement between the district and Sanpen Properties Inc. In brief, the latter allows the developer to build on the property in stages.
These bylaw changes do not mean that the developer can build just yet. There are still both the development and building permits to obtain, requiring more public consultation and council approvals.
Finall said she brought the matter back to council due to what she called new information about the 9395 East Saanich Rd. proposal — a preferred purchase option being offered by the developer to a local employers group and North Saanich firefighters.
“This deal is an improvement to the project, “ Finall said, “but it raises new issues.”
Those, she said, include how the purchase option will work and how it might apply to future affordable or workforce housing policies in the district.
She added any discussion council might have on the matter won’t slow the project down.
Both McMurphy and Stock, who have long supported Finall in opposing the project and calling for a comprehensive local housing policy, agreed the purchase option was a good idea. Yet, since the project is a departure for the community, they want to get it right and take more time to look at it again.
Browne said none of this is a reason to renegotiate the plan and called for an immediate vote on re-ratifying the bylaws.
That sparked another debate, with Coun. Daly delivering the strongest words.
“It’s turned into an opportunity for another friggin’ delay,” he said.
Coun. McBride said she doesn’t see anything sinister about the plan for a preferred purchase option, adding council needs to move on.
Again, council voted 4-3 to reaffirm the bylaw changes.
Lunn has strong words for the mayor
Gary Lunn, a former MP, current owner of 9395 East Saanich Rd. and partner in Sanpen Properties Inc., says the mayor has to accept that she no longer holds a majority on North Saanich council and move on.
Lunn said the details of his small lot residential housing project have been a matter of public record for some time. He said they have spoken with council many times and have been clear in their intent to offer employees of the Sidney/North Saanich industrial area preference to purchase the homes.
“This is nothing new,” he said. “It has been one delay after another delay.”
Lunn said Mayor Alice Finall has shown a lack of respect “to the people of North Saanich” and has used up staff and council’s time in the process.
“You need to accept you didn’t win a majority of this council. You need to let it go.”