Five acres of land adjacent to Island View Beach won’t be changing any time soon after a rezoning application was rejected by Central Saanich council.
Council initially received a letter stating the applicant was planning to develop the land at 3215 Island View Road in July of last year. The property owner had hoped to create a subdivision of seven residential lots and one commercial.
“This property, in the past, has had a commercial component, it was a place people could come and get ice cream, use the go karts,” said property owner Michelle Koski during last Monday night’s council meeting.
Koski said the idea behind the project was to provide services to people in the park.
“Right now it’s wasted vacant land,” she said. “It’s zoned agricultural [but not in the ALR].”
When the application was received in 2013, Director of Planning and Building Services, Bruce Greig, said that staff sent the applicant back to the drawing board to find different pieces of information including various reports on soil, engineering, water and more.
Koski said she had hoped the project would get to the public hearing stage so the people of Central Saanich could have their say.
“I’ve already spent over $50,000 doing all the reports I did in good faith to move forward with the planning department on the assumption that we were working together to do the right thing,” said Koski.
“I can’t spend any more money doing more and more and more reports if you’re just going to reject it without getting the public’s view on it.”
Mayor Alastair Bryson said he feared the worst with the application from the beginning.
“People can apply for all kinds of things in our municipality. We don’t limit people from making applications but I’m sure that staff guide them and provide them insights,” he said.
“If I remember correctly, I broke with my usual practice at that first meeting and I laid it out that, from my perspective, it was a significant challenge for this application to be successful,” said Bryson.
“I don’t normally weigh in on these things but I was concerned that what has happened would happen, quite frankly. If a person wants to go consult with engineers they will quite happily take your money and they will come up with a plan to accommodate your vision on the property. That’s not the same, in any stretch of the imagination, to meaning that it’s an appropriate land use from a political or OCP land use perspective,” Bryson said.
Bryson moved that the application be denied and that motion was unanimously supported by council after discussion on concerns, which primarily centred around the OCP and the regional growth strategy.
“Moving to build outside of our urban containment boundary just doesn’t make sense to me right now,” said Councillor Cathie Ounsted.
Bill Kennedy, a Central Saanich resident who uses the park at least twice a week, said he was relieved the application didn’t go through.
“It’s such a pristine beach, people go there for a specific reason. I spent days talking with people about the rezoning application and I didn’t meet one person who supported the idea. It’s such a beautiful area down there and it would be wonderful if it remained like that for at least another 50 years.”