Two years ‘acceptable’ for re-zoning application
Two years is a reasonable time to expect an application to be processed according to both trustees and staff with the Islands Trust.
During the Town Hall this past Thursday, trustees were addressed by John Snipper, a newcomer to the island.
John said he had heard it can take up to two years for a rezoning. He asked if the trustees were satisfied with this as an appropriate timeline for a simple rezoning.
Regional Planning Manager Chris Jackson said he would find two years to be the usual.
For an OCP amendment, the process after the trustees are done with an application can take three months as the application heads to the province for approval. And that is after the public hearings and all other steps in the process that take place on Gabriola.
Chris said he doesn’t see the timeline shortening up now as “we have more of a duty now to consult with other agencies, particularly with First Nations. To get comment and process those comments takes time. There are a lot of the other things we have to do.
“It is usually less, but that wouldn’t be unusual.”
John said his question was were the trustees satisfied with this as a timeline.
Trustee Sheila Malcolmson said, “The clinic was done in nine months, we made it a priority politically. It had great community pressure.”
Currently though, the trustees are focusing the staff priorities on the long-term planning process ahead of the application process.
Trustee Gisele Rudischer pointed out, “We have 13 applications to deal with on the books and a community plan that we’re going in to our fourth year of. We need to get the community plan done.
“Two years [for an application] is not unusual in any of the Trust area. It also depends on the applicant – sometimes they take time.”
Chair David Graham said rezonings are not simple, even if they appear to be.
“You are changing the zonings, which represent the community’s wishes. There is a lot of history [in the zoning]. When someone wants to change that, it is a huge deal, even if it’s a minor change. We have sweated and met in these rooms to craft the Land Use Bylaw as it sits.
“I know if feels like a long time, but [a rezoning] is changing the plan for the community.”
Sheila said, “I think it is a reasonable estimate given what we have on our workload. I agree it is not ideal, but that is the message we’ve gotten from the community.”
Long-term planning to have priority over new applications
At the same meeting, trustees passed a motion that any further applications coming in to the Trust office should be put together as preliminary reports before being brought to the Trust Committee.
The priority for the trustees is getting the long-term Official Community Plan (OCP) and Land Use Bylaw reviews done.
The idea has been floated that any future applications brought in be put on hold until the OCP review is done.
Gisele said she was in favour of that because if there isn’t a hold put on, “there will be something that comes up that says we need to do that. For four years to not be done the OCP, I don’t want to get to six years and not be done.”
Chris said, “Applicants have a right to apply; LTC has a right to say not right now.”
He and Sheila said it might be better to have something that up front says the Trust Committee is undergoing a review period for the OCP and applications will take more time.
But a brief report could still be generated by staff for the trustees so that if something major, which the trustees would be willing to put ahead of the review, came forward, they could then request staff place priority on the application.