Letter: Potlatch Proposal

Tuesday, February 21 2017

Dear Trustees,

I am writing to respond to two comments made by Trustee Heather O’Sullivan.

The first was at the November Local Trust Committee meeting, when she noted that trustees depend on planners to make decisions.

Of course staff are there to help. But trustees would be wise to remember that, while both planners and trustees (being human), make mistakes, planners are unionised, and trustees aren’t.

So, for example, you might be interested to know that it was former Trustee Sheila Malcolmson, not staff, who found less onerous ways to implement the Riparian Areas Regulation, when it became clear even confirmed environmentalists took issue with the planner’s recommendations.

A wise trustee understands both where the buck stops, and that she needs to know her Official Community Plan better than anyone else in the Trust federation – barring, hopefully, her fellow local trustee.

The Gabriola Sounder has also reported O’Sullivan as suggesting that some of the protest regarding the current Potlatch proposal is just “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.”

Rezoning Forestry lands to Resource, and increasing density is not trivial. Neither is the fact that, as former Trustee Gisele Rudischer has noted,  under the current proposal a significant  patch of land won’t be surrendered to the community immediately upon rezoning, but only when (if) subdivision occurs.

But even if these are not the issues to which O’Sullivan was referring, those familiar with Gabriola history know that not paying attention to the I’s and T’s has had some serious negative repercussions in the past.

As I’ve said before, I would like the LTC to decline the current Potlatch proposal and have staff encourage the proponents to resubmit their application following the provisions in the OCP.

Barring that, I hope that trustees will at least insist the approximately 39 acre “gift” that should have been due to the community with the creation of extra densities will be “given” to us upon rezoning, not at the time of a subdivision that might never happen. 

For a Rural Gabriola, and for Generation 8

~ Chris Bowers