A proposed grocery store on West Saanich Road will see Central Saanich and the Capital Regional District head to dispute resolution.
Monday night (March 26) Central Saanich council confirmed its preference for binding dispute resolution set out under the Local Government Act.
After a March 13 meeting between provincial representatives; Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson, district planner Hope Burns and chief administrative officer Gary Nason; and CRD board chair Geoff Young, as well as the CRD CAO and director of planning, they came away feeling a preference for the binding dispute resolution arbitration process.
Of the three options under that process – peer panel, full arbitration, final proposal arbitration – staff recommended and Central Saanich confirmed during committee that they prefer the final proposal arbitration.
“We did sit down for some time on this matter,” Bryson said. “We came to the view that there is limited opportunity to make progress through mediation. There doesn’t seem to be middle compromise between building a store and not building a store.”
In August, the Capital Regional District denied Central Saanich’s request to allow the Co-op to build outside the urban settlement area. The CRD board determined that the proposed amendment to the regional context statement in the OCP isn’t consistent with the CRD’s overarching planning document, the regional growth strategy.
The district applied to amend the OCP and zoning bylaw to allow the development of the grocery store. The property on West Saanich Road is designated rural and is located outside the urban settlement area in the OCP and outside the regional urban containment and servicing policy area under the CRD’s RGS.
Under the Local Government Act, Central Saanich asked the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Ida Chong, to intervene.
Monday night, Coun. Zeb King questioned if council should move forward, seeking more information on the Peninsula Co-op’s publicly known signed agreement to build a food market, gas bar and administration building on Tsartlip land.
“Being a member of the community I’ve heard there’s another application for another site, for that store,” King said. “I’m confused … as to what we are potentially asking an arbitrator to look at when we are hearing about another application.”
Municipal staff confirmed that Co-op was asked and did not wish to withdraw the application.
The majority of council agreed to move forward.
“This has been the position of council,” Bryson pointed out.
“I move that we stand down and change direction,” King said, but found no seconder for the motion.
At this point in the process, the minister seeks input from the parties involved. Central Saanich agreed on Monday to seek final proposal arbitration. Under that process, they and the CRD must prepare a joint statement on the disputed issues.
Coun. Adam Olsen, who chairs the committee, handed the helm to Bryson and didn’t participate in the discussion due to perceived conflict of interest in relationship between Tsartlip First Nation and Co-op. Coun. Cathie Ounsted, who leaves Co-op discussions because of perceived conflict as a member of the Co-op board, was not in attendance.
Board sticks to its guns
The CRD saw the issue on its Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee meeting Wednesday afternoon. The committee recommended that the board reaffirm its position that a large retail store at that location would violate the Regional Growth Strategy.
“There are different representative roles here. I advocated for the council’s position,” said Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson. “There is some difference of opinion from Central Saanich on the question that should go to the arbitrator.
“The province, the ministry will help us work on the appropriate question to go to the arbitrator if we go that far.”
A handful of representatives, including Coun. Ted Daly of North Saanich and Sidney Mayor Larry Cross, recused themselves after legal advice that as Co-op members they should not participate in the discussion.
The bigger picture
• In the process any “affected local government” can participate in addition to the parties in the dispute. That could include all other 12 municipalities that make up the CRD.
Did you know?
• Central Saanich council also agreed to bear its proportion of the associated costs estimated between $5,000 and $15,000.