Monday, 1 December 2014

Council and Committee of the Whole Summaries for December 2014

Summaries of NS Council and COW Meetings for December, 2014

Compliments of the North Saanich Residents Association.
http://members.shaw.ca/nsra/home.htm

Disclaimer: “We offer these Council summaries as a service to our members. We have attempted to be as accurate as possible, but recognize that our interpretation of Council discussions may not be quite as the speakers intended. We encourage residents to consult District webcasts for the most accurate information and/or members of Council for clarification and details, and will correct any significant errors that are brought to our attention."

Dec. 1, 2014 – Inaugural Meeting of new Council

There was a standing-room only crowd gathered to witness the inauguration of the new council.
CAO Mr. Buchan brought the meeting to order, and introduced Director of Corporate Services, Mr. Kingsley, to swear in the new Council. The Mayor and each Councillor took the Oath of Office, then took their seats at the Council table. The Mayor gave an inaugural address, available here: http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Mayor_and_Council/Mayor_s _Inaugural_Address.htm
Committee and Council appointments were presented, there was minimal discussion on them, and then they were approved.

Dec. 8, 2014 – Committee of the Whole meeting

Councillor Gartshore chairing.

The main order of business concerned a proposed wave assessment study, that would cost approx. $20,000. Staff indicated the funds would provide a report which gave an accurate assessment of possible future property damage due to sea level rise, and to help with decisions regarding development applications in vulnerable areas. The most variable component in the equation is also the most critical: wave surge. Central Saanich has started the ball rolling on this and its staff has talked to our staff about somehow pooling our resources. (Sidney does not seem to be interested in pursuing a study at this time.) The CAO (Mr. Buchan) says that an accurate map is needed to see who might be at risk, and who might not. (Currently there is an application for building on a property that could be affected.) Mayor Finall expressed concern about the security of existing property owners, and the potential for future liability based on a lack of due diligence by Council. Coun. Orr is basically in favour, but doesn't want to rush. Coun. Stock is keen to go ahead. Coun. Thornburgh is in favour of coordination, consolidation, and consultation with the public, as soon as is reasonable. Coun. Weisenberger also. Coun. McClintock argued for leadership by N. Saanich in getting C. Saanich involved, and getting moving as soon as possible.

In the end the motion suggested by Staff was amended to reflect the desire to coordinate with the adjoining municipalities, and get going on this study. Two residents, both from the Ardmore area, spoke to the issue, and both were not in favour of moving forward with a study. One suggested that a lot of damage to waterfront properties is due to large logs, etc. that float in, then cause damage during storms, and could be eliminated if the district would “clean up” the beaches. The motion passed unanimously.

December 15th 2014 – Council Meeting

(Attendance - about 18 plus Council and Staff)
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION PERIOD: Four people, including a proprietor of the Roost, Dallas Bohl, spoke about the issue of past noise by-law infractions at the Roost. Mr. Bohl informed Council that the Roost's owners have decided not to proceed with their plans to build the building that has come to be known as "the castle" that they had originally proposed, but would only be expanding the bakery/cafe area somewhat.
There were four issues that generated significant discussion:

1) Finding a Corporate Logo, not to replace the current flag or Coat of Arms, but to put on letterheads, business cards, and vehicles, and the website, that would enhance the image of North Saanich. Councillor Orr suggested discussing this in the context of the Strategic
Planning Sessions to be held in January. The Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Buchan, advised an early decision, as the Planning Sessions can last 8 weeks. The Director of Finance, Ms. Flynn, in reply to Coun. Weisenberger's query about costs, stated that $10,000 was originally budgeted, and most of that has already been spent in the previous term on a study and new design/logo. There is enough left from the $10,000 budgeted to cover getting the new design onto cards, letterheads and vehicles. The website change can be handled in-house. Mayor Finall stated that this is the tail end of the last Council's communications strategy that has been left hanging for this Council to deal with, and hoped that it could be dealt with quickly. The motion to approve implementing the use of the new logo passed 5-1 with Coun. Orr dissenting.

2) Remuneration to Council through a cost of living clause. The new Council looked at the staff recommendation to advise staff to implement the adjusted Council remuneration pursuant to Bylaw No. 1186, passed by a former Council (ie. remuneration adjustments tied to the Consumer Price Index). Councillors Orr, Weisenberger and Gartshore stated that they were uncomfortable with the perception of brand new councillors voting themselves a raise, even a small one, so early in their mandate. There was discussion about the legality of refusing the raise, thereby contravening the by-law. Ms. Flynn pointed out that C.P.I. increases were easier to count on for budgeting purposes than bigger, less frequent, salary increases. Coun. Stock agreed that the optics are not good, but that the process is lawful, fair, and in this case at least it's not a large sum of money. Mayor Finall reminded everyone that the last real review of remuneration was in 2006/07, and wondered: if we have a bylaw that hasn't been rescinded, why would we not stick to it? Coun. Stock moved to have the CAO look into the legality of not following the by-law (by refusing the remuneration adjustment), and to come back to the issue. Carried unanimously.

3) Wave Effects Study. The motion before Council, dating from last week's COW, was to direct staff to work with the adjacent
municipalities. Councillor McClintock wanted to include local
First Nations in the process, stating that it was important to him to move forward on ground that has been allowed to grow over ie. to reach out to and involve First Nations in issues of common interest, as you would

any neighbour. An amended motion to invite the four Peninsula First Nations to participate in the study, without requiring them to make a financial contribution, carried unanimously.

4) Noise. Many complaints were made about loud music coming from three special events at the Roost last summer, prompting this discussion of the noise by-law. Coun. Orr suggested looking into the use of acoustical mapping as had been suggested by at least one correspondent to Council, and supported by speakers in the public participation period. Coun. McClintock thought that we already have the tools to address this (ie. noise bylaw enforcement), and that Council should send a strong message to the Roost that infractions there have to cease. Coun. Stock wanted a better by-law. Coun. Orr suggested that a maximum decibel level of amplified noise be specified, and stated his uncertainty as to how the by-law would apply to ALR property. A motion to refer the matter to staff passed unanimously.
Coun. McClintock then moved to send a letter to the Roost stressing Council's resolve to protect residents from excessive noise that interferes with the enjoyment of their property. Coun. Orr didn't want Council to seem to be singling out the Roost, when there have also been past complaints about other such businesses; and Coun. Gartshore worried that Council was being too heavy-handed in sending a letter to the Roost at this time and pointed out that these complaints come from outdoor events that won't be happening now for a few months. That motion passed 5-2 with Coun. Gartshore and Mayor Finall opposed.

Council moved In Camera for the remainder of the meeting. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Waterfront Property Owners and Team North Saanich


Waterfront Property Owners and Team North Saanich

Nov. 14, 2014

Team North Saanich (TNS) delivered flyers to waterfront property owners this week, just days before the election, making claims and promises to a privileged group that could put our shared waterfront at risk, and our community liable for unexpected costs.

Throughout their previous term on Council, the TNS incumbents have displayed a bias in favour of waterfront property owners, spurred on by a small, vocal group of waterfront property owners (PROW) that only represents 15% of all waterfront property owners.  At the Oct. 30 All Candidates Meeting, Browne, Mearns, McLintock, McBride and Pearce all stated that they believe that waterfront owners are treated unfairly.  Waterfront owners have higher-value properties, so the amount of taxes they pay is higher.  Apparently, TNS believes that is not fair.  Mearns (a waterfront property owner himself) even went so far as to say that some of the waterfront owners inherited their properties, and can’t afford to pay the taxes on them, so they should be given special consideration.  (Presumably, those taxpayers who DIDN’T inherit their properties, and perhaps even hold mortgages on them, would be the ones to shoulder the tax burden for those who did inherit their properties!) 

Waterfront property owners have the privilege of owning special pieces of land that abut our shared marine environment.  With that privilege comes responsibility.  In the case of development on the parts of their property that abut the ocean and the beach, that responsibility includes considerations around marine environments, erosion, pollution, and wave action.  It is a delicate system, where small changes at the property line can produce significant changes in the marine environment.  Man-made modifications of the foreshore can have significant implications to neighbouring properties, due to changes in wave action, long shore drift, etc.  Hence, there are added steps that need to be taken to ensure those considerations are dealt with, which unfortunately include added costs.

In their flyer, “if re-elected, TNS commits to working on behalf of waterfront property owners by supporting a review of Development Permit Areas (pertaining to waterfront properties) to reduce process and regulations where feasible without affecting environmentally sensitive areas on the waterfront”.

Ironically, it is worth noting that a review of the Development Permit Areas has been in the Strategic Plan since Dec. 2013 as a Short-Term Priority (to be looked at within one year) but has yet to be dealt with because the higher-density development focus of the Team North Saanich incumbents has pushed back that goal.  In fact, incumbents Celia Stock and Alice Finall supported the review of the Development Permit Areas, but it was TNS that held it up.  Are they really being up front about this “priority”?

Team North Saanich has remained silent on their website about special deals, but are now making promises to selected resident groups, the waterfront owners.  They claim to “Do what they say”, but they also don’t always say what they’re going to do.

·      They rescinded the security deposit for landscaping in the 15-meter foreshore, leaving the taxpayers liable for remediation costs if the work isn’t done.  A performance bond merely means that district staff doesn’t have to police the work – the homeowner is motivated to get the work done in a speedy fashion in order to release their performance bond.  Now, thanks to TNS, this puts an unnecessary burden on District staff, and another unnecessary cost to all taxpayers.

·      TNS also supports modification of docks in the 15-meter setback area, but are vague about what “modification” might mean.  Fifteen-meter setbacks have been enshrined in our OCP since 1977, and were also included in the 1989, 1998 and 2007 OCP’s as well.  They have long been recognized as an important measure to ensure environmental integrity of the foreshore.

Many waterfront residents want quiet, environment-friendly properties. Unblemished beachfronts form a vista recognized internationally as a treasure.  Waterfront owners need to recognize their special responsibilities, not just their “special” rights.

Again Team North Saanich have demonstrated their disregard for the Official Community Plan and environmental sustainability, and ignored the long-term implications of their actions.


They are pandering to a small, organized group of waterfront owners who represent less than 15% of all waterfront property owners – truly a vocal minority!





Thursday, 13 November 2014

Team North Saanich - Nov 12 Campaign Speak



           A one-page sheet was mailed out by Team North Saanich to North Saanich residents on 12 November, 2014.  It is riddled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations.  Here is more accurate information relating to points they raise in their letter:
          
·      TNS has only facilitated three units of housing priced below $400,000
·      preserving agricultural land (ALR ) is not a priority for them.  Food security is not a concern for Team North Saanich [ACM, 6 November, 2014]
·      the impact upon the municipality of newly approved higher housing densities is proportionately much higher than the 2% land area involved
·      new taxes from development are eventually outstripped by increased municipal servicing costs.  If this were not true, large cities like Vancouver would have very little debt and much lower taxes.
·      The Community Amenity Charge is not a rainy day fund.
·      The Team North Saanich characterization of the Sandown project is highly distorted:
§      there was no guarantee of a second Sandown agreement and
§      the reclamation costs now being funded by Mr. Randall are covered by approximately 2 years of project related, new tax revenue
§      rejecting the Sandown agreement, denied the municipality $347,000 of annual tax revenue in perpetuity, enough to fully fund the reclamation costs, and producing a net benefit of $5.7 million by 2032.
·      0% tax increases do not cover inflation and represent roller coaster economics, not fiscal stability.
·      Team North Saanich is an officially recognized slate, termed a Civic Political Party by Elections BC.  A preponderance of North Saanich residents indicate that they do not want slate governance.
·      The independent candidates running against Team North Saanich are indeed a group of individuals, united only by their common values and principles, not by their slavish devotion to an agenda.  Despite the fact that they have stated repeatedly that they are not a slate, Team North Saanich still persists in spreading this falsehood. 
·      Remember that the Team North Saanich Elector Organization is a group of 50 anonymous individuals who support their slate of candidates.
Vote for independent thinkers who do not campaign with slogans and group speak


 A detailed analysis of today's bulk Mailout is given below:

November 10th 2014
Dear North Saanich Resident:

#
Original Text
Comment
1.              
No doubt you have read that Team North Saanich intends to pave the entire municipality and replace all agricultural land with high density housing. Well we would like to tell you the truth.
·  A gross exaggeration.  We are not aware of anyone making any such predictions.
·  The truth and TNS do not always travel the same road; see our Fact Checker page.
2.              
Housing was one of the more important initiatives council took on this last term. We felt there was a need to provide housing which would be affordable for workforce employees, young families, and give seniors the option to age in place. A first priority for us was that no Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) would be disturbed.
·  But no policy to ensure affordable housing was created; 7 attempts to do so were refused by TNS
·  Of the over 200 units approved, only 3 were priced below $400,000 -- at $399,000.  According to the Sidney North Saanich Industry Group’s own survey, these units are unattainable to 65% [the lowest wage earners] of the group’s employees.
·  Preserving ALR land is not a first priority for TNS; throughout their term they have spoken in favour of ALR land removals.
·  They also discussed housing options on the Sandown property on different occasions.  Click here for more details.
3.              
We followed the recommendations of the 5 housing reports that have been produced over the past 12 years. Each of these reports, with much public input, had recommended higher density in appropriate areas.
·  These reports did not recommend higher density in appropriate areas, but did recommend creation of housing policy to address problems of housing affordability.
·  Those housing reports also reiterated the importance of the rural and agricultural nature of North Saanich.
·  A summary of their findings can be found here:  http://www.nscv.ca/search?q=housing+consultation+history
4.              
Based on that mass of public input, we changed the zoning to allow for a moderate increased density in two specific small areas between the airport and the Pat Bay Highway and an area on MacDonald Park Road east of the highway. Both areas are adjacent to Sidney and make up less than 2% of the area of the district.
·  The term "mass" is an exaggeration.  See the summary listed above.
The increased density is not moderate.
·  It enables 420 housing units where 128 are now with no consideration whatsoever for impact upon traffic.
·  While the geographical area may only be 2%, the impact of this density increase is proportionately much higher.

5.              
There are currently 4,500 houses in North Saanich and the approved rezoning would allow for a maximum of 520 new houses, an increase of roughly 10% over a ten year period, or an average of only 1% increase per year.
·  The timeframe has not been specified.
·  Staff reported in 2013 that about 500 units were pending or expected.
6.              
The new housing will generate additional tax income of approximately $168,000 per year (2% of our annual budget). In addition through amenity charges we will have created an amenity/rainy day fund of $2,700,000 to be applied to future projects like additional parks or recreation facilities to benefit our residents. All this has been achieved without any additional infrastructural costs to our residents.
·  New housing will generate additional tax income but also generates a disproportionately high servicing requirement as urban settlement demands more services that are also more expensive.
·  The Community Amenity Contribution is not a "rainy day fund" nor is it available for general expenses.
·  While there may have been additional infrastructure costs, there were significant staff costs incurred in expediting spot rezoning applications that were funded from general revenue only.
7.              
Another of our significant achievements has been in connection with the acquisition of the Sandown Lands. We felt the initial proposal would have exposed the municipality to excessive and potentially further unknown costs. Although we received considerable opposition, we refused to accept that deal and eventually negotiated a far better deal for our residents. As a result, we saved the District more than $1,000,000 In remedial costs and $500,000 in tax giveaway.
·  Team North Saanich has consistently opposed the agricultural component of the Sandown project, putting forward various flimsy reasons as earlier objections were overcome.  Increasing the commercial component and adding housing were consistent themes in their opposition.
·  Team North Saanich consistently misconstrues the facts around this situation:
·    there was no guarantee of a second agreement
·    there was no tax giveaway
·    the reclamation costs were fully covered by revenue
·     net revenue denied by Team North Saanich would have been $5.7 million by 2032 had the owner not come back.
8.              
Team North Saanich is not a closed minded slate, we are simply a group of people who believe that council decisions should be guided by common sense and are not afraid to tell residents what we intend to do if elected. We have chosen to run a clean and positive campaign, refraining from using the scare and attack methods of others. We are proud of our track record of providing some new attainable housing while improving the financial stability of North Saanich without any impact on our agricultural land.
·  This one is a real zinger, brought to you by the folks who regularly berated residents for offering their opinions in Council and even barring one from speaking.
·  Team North Saanich is an official slate, recognized by Elections BC as a Civic Political Party.  Why do we need a group-think slate in North Saanich?
·  Common sense is yet another code word, like "inclusive", "vibrant" and "affordable".  Since "common sense" means different things to different people, we would prefer to see "good sense” actually being practiced.
·  During the last election, Team North Saanich was very secretive about their plans to bar Mayor Finall from being the CRD director and about the scope of their development approval plans.  No mention was made of the potential for 520 units.  The number could have been much higher, but was only limited by sewer system capacity.
·  0% tax increases do not denote financial stability, but an arbitrary and temporary departure from sound fiscal planning.  Only when cost increases can be held at 0% does this make sense.  This is not stability but roller coaster economics.
9.              
Those who attack us pose as just a group of individuals. We believe it would be politically naive to believe they are running as individuals, they are in fact a slate themselves, and we don't think the voters of North Saanich are politically naive.
Nobody is “attacking” TNS members personally, especially not the other candidates.  However, there have been justifiable criticisms of their bad behavior and bad decisions as Councillors, from groups such as North Saanich Community Voices, and other citizens.  It is to be expected that they should be held accountable for their decisions and actions taken as Councillors.  Voters deserve nothing less.

The independent candidates have been consistent in their assertion that they are not a slate.  Slates can only be formed by the candidates themselves, which the independent candidates have chosen not to do.  Nor do they become a slate because others in the community group their signs together on their lawns, or choose to endorse them together.


It is hypocritical for Team North Saanich to say that the same label is positive for them, but negative when applied to others.





 Vote for independent thinkers who know what they stand for and adhere to principles, not agendas