Monday, 26 January 2015

Committee of the Whole Summary -- Jan. 26, 2015

With thanks to the North Saanich Residents Association.

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."Committee of the Whole Summary –  January 26, 2015

Councillor Gartshore Chairing, Councillor Stock absent.

1949 Marina Way (Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club):

Dean Strongitharm, the agent for the applicant, attended with a representative from the Oak Bay Marine Group.  He gave a brief history of the situation:  Historically, the area that had been cleared had been used in the past to bring new docks that had been built elsewhere to place them in the water.  The Yacht Club is going through an ongoing, annual repair/maintenance program.  Work was done, unbeknownst, to provide access.  Stop work order was put in place, respected by Marina.  Haven’t done any other work since then.

Staff informed Council that the fact that the work had been done (without a permit) was brought to the attention of the District by a group of First Nations people who took their concerns to the District.  An accompanying letter indicated that a certified environmental professional considered the work satisfactory for the conditions (it was already a disturbed site).

While the stop work order was put into place over a year ago, Staff advised Council that it took a long time for the applicant to complete the application, only finishing it in November of 2014.
Council agreed that the work was done to their satisfaction, and Mayor Finall moved to pass the DVP and notify the First Nations that the work was completed.

Liquor Licensing Branch – Application for Structural Change to Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club

Finall:  moved the Staff recommendation, which carried unanimously

Noise Bylaw No. 1383 and Municipal Ticket Bylaw No. 1013 Amending Bylaw No. 1384

Mr. Broderick:  we’re constantly trying to harmonize bylaws.  We don’t have bylaw enforcement for the full week, nor 24 hours a day.  When our bylaw enforcement officer isn’t on duty, the RCMP enforce our bylaws, so we are trying to harmonize with Sidney, to make it easier for the RCMP.
Heat pumps:  it is necessary to have a trained professional engineer administer the decibel test on heat pumps (costs $500 to $1000 to do that), necessary if this goes to court.
Noise contour mapping – have tried to address that [as per a suggestion from residents in a previous Council meeting] but weather conditions and other factors can affect it.  Even if it is done, what are the initial assumptions?  Staff doesn’t really support that suggestion.
How many noise violation tickets issued:  very few
Heat pumps:  we make some suggestions first (noise dampening, trellising, change location…)
Who pays for sound engineer:  the DNS
Do we see any concern with the subjective nature of noise:  yes, it’s very subjective.  How far do we go:  (garden equipment, lawnmowers, chainsaws?).  There’s a judgment factor which Staff have discussed with the Bylaw Enforcement Officer.
Fines:  I’ll check into this with Sidney, I thought they were identical.
Coun. McClintock:  what does an acceptable approved monitor cost – the results of which will stand up in court? 
Staff did not have that information.
Coun. McClintock:  Do we have to call a professional, or can we train our own employees?
Mr. Broderick:  there is specialized training that the staff person would need to take to address the credibility if this went to court.
Coun. McClintock:  have we ever given a ticket for heat pump violations?
Mr. Broderick:  I’m afraid I can’t answer that since up until recently we haven’t kept track of our violation tickets – have started to now.
Fines:  there’s more than one means of enforcing a situation.  One is a ticket.  Section 16 mentions a “long form”.  I’m not completely clear on that.  In legislation, there’s a maximum fine of $10,000.
Coun. Orr:  I wonder why we’re distinguishing between “residential” and other. 
Mr. Broderick:  some of the language is identical to what is already in the bylaw (like the word “residential”), but I can’t give a better explanation than that.  If council wants to advise us to change the language we’re happy to hear that.
Coun. Orr:  I want to include zones that are appropriate.
Mr. Broderick:  my recollection is that the issues have been in residential areas, but that’s strictly my recollection.
Coun. Orr:  Sidney has some different times in their bylaws.  How does the RCMP know that a warning has been issued?
Mr. Broderick:  good question.  Can’t provide a straightforward answer.  We’ll need to set something up to address that.  In the past it’s been informal
Coun. Thornburgh moved the recommendation.  Carried unanimously

Development Application Procedures – Draft Bylaw Amendments and Policies Report
Mr. Mari:  trying to come up with a process that is clear to the applicant up-front.
Part of the rationale for the delegation of authority is that if the applicant meets the guidelines, the permit is issued.  Who is interpreting whether the guidelines have been met?  Can staff do it, or does it need to be done by Council?  Even if delegated to staff, Council still would retain control.
Fee bylaw has 3 amendments.  We’re trying to pull out the application forms from the bylaw so that they can be amended without amending the whole bylaw.
Want to have a guide that will be available at the front counter to be handed out in whole or in part as an applicant would require.
Referral to district commissions:  able to do that without going to Council.
Mr. Buchan:  commend the planning department for this excellent job.
Some places have delegated statutory referrals (eg. Ministry, First Nations) to staff.  Advantage:  referral process can take 2 months, so this speeds up the process.
Coun. McClintock:  Are the fees consistent with other municipalities?
Mr. Mari:  we looked at the fees sometime back.  The review was done by looking at staff time, and the fees were deemed to be reasonable based on staff time.  How they relate to neighbouring municipalities, I don’t have that info.

Development subsidized by taxpayers:

Mr. Buchan:  I would say that in comparison to Sidney and CS, these fees are higher.  There is a problem/risk  in comparing to other municipalities in that their fees may be out of date (as ours were a number of years ago).  Are there some municipalities that are higher? Absolutely.  Council can be assured that these fees do not begin to cover the cost.  There is definitely some subsidies to developers that the municipality covers.

Mayor Finall:  How can Council assess the level of the subsidies?
Mr. Buchan:  When we increased the fees about four years, we knew they were still below the cost of those services.  It would require some staff time to figure that out.  It’s not just the planning department that are involved in these applications:  it’s other departments too:  administration, finance, fire department…
Mayor Finall:  That would be useful information.  We had applications over the last 2 or 3 years that were far greater than anything staff has had to deal with before.
Orr:  Commend staff on this very comprehensive report .  Fees:  once we move out with this: should these become the new guidelines, that would be the time to inform the public regarding cost recovery, etc.
I think knowing that information (regarding how much developments are subsidized) is necessary.  We also need to tie it to outcomes at the end of the year.

Landscaping:  regarding 125% bond
Mr. Buchan:  a bond makes sure that the work will get done, either by applicant, or if the applicant doesn’t, then the bond would allow council to make sure it gets done.  We believe 125% is appropriate so that it would cover any underestimates or inflation from when the work started to when it was completed.
Coun. McClintock:  was the 125% bond taken out at some point, and if so when?
Mr. Buchan:  yes, taken out last year. That raised the issue of the liability to the community, and staff thinks that it should be put back in.
Mayor Finall:  wasn’t it just removed from two specific applications?
Mr. Broderick:  I believe that’s correct.
Mr. Buchan:  re the document:  we’re comfortable bringing it forward as being a legally sound document.
Coun. Thornburgh:  will this affect the staff time, either increasing it or decreasing it?
Buchan:  if council chooses to delegate, there will be less staff time (fewer staff reports, mainly), which amounts to a faster process.

Public Comments:   Three members of the public expressed concerns about delegating these decisions to staff, the amount of 125% , the high cost of doing work on waterfront property.

Mr. Buchan:  I believe that the recommendations in this report represent best practices.  I don’t believe they’re over the top.  We encourage different standards through guidelines, not bond.

Staff informed Council that “landscaping” does not include boulders, just mainly plantings.  Also, in response to a question from Coun. Weisenberger, that the District cannot register anything on title to ensure work gets done.

Coun. Orr:  One thing to deal with is consolidation of some bylaws.  Another is some of the comments from the table and from the audience.  There may be a perception in some sections of the community that we may be going overboard, and there may be some merit in that.  Our responsibility is to move things forward, while not rushing things that need some extra attention.   Perhaps we need to refer to next COW, and in the meantime take that time to sink our teeth into this.
Mayor Finall:  This has been moving through council since 2012 – there has been ample time for public comment.  
Mr. Buchan:  around 4 years ago, council delegated Wildfire Hazard DVP’s to staff and the turnaround was 4 to 6 weeks, and the experience was positive.  If there is an issue, there is the ability for an appeal.  There have been dozens of DP’s that have gone through, and I’ve never seen an appeal.
Mr. Broderick:  we had Wildfire Hazard DVP’s out in about 5 days.
Coun. Gartshore:  are there alternatives to the 125%?
Mr. Buchan:  it’s up to Council’s discretion.

Mayor Finall moved staff recommendations.

Coun. Orr:  I’ll support the motion with the understanding that this will still have the opportunity to make its way through for comment and changes.  I’m uncomfortable with the idea that it’s council’s discretion:  we’re lay-people, to a degree.  I have no basis to make some assessments.  I would like the chance to have a discussion with interested parties so we can reach a reasonable compromise.
Mr. Buchan:  Respecting the 125% bond:  let’s reduce it down to its essential elements:  if you want to make sure the work can be done, then 100% will make sure it gets done.  If it isn’t enough, then you may have to subsidize, it may go to court, you may have to chase down the work.
Coun. Orr:  If I’m going to look at assessing risk, I would look at the 88 DP’s since 2009, and ask, how many “runaways” did we have?
Mr. Buchan:  that’s a really good point.  In my 25 years of this work, I’ve only seen it a few times.  Once, the bonding was in hand, and the work got finished.  Once there wasn’t bonding, and it was a big deal.  Generally our rules and regulations are complied with.  It’s the exception when they’re not (less than 5%) – it’s for the exceptions that you have these measures.
Mayor Finall:   in those cases that Coun. Orr refers to, we had the surety in place, which may have contributed to compliance.  I have seen these bonds in other municipalities, and it’s not uncommon.
Staff agreed to report back to Council on what other municipalities are doing, hopefully by next council meeting.  If not, Council could still vote not to complete all readings.
Motion carried unanimously, with that amendment.

Mayor Finall:  Move that staff report back in one year with information on permitting process timeline and level of municipal subsidy to developers.
Staff offered to look at the average time from application to approval, although cautioned that it may be difficult depending on how many applications we have.
Furthermore, not all issues are in the hands of staff.  Sometimes developers take months to get things that staff asks for back to staff.   There are applications that are years old, that the applicants have just grown cold on.
Coun. Orr:  Can we take the anomalous ones out?
Motion carries.

Coun. Weisenberger mentioned for the public’s information that councillors can now send questions to staff before meetings so that staff are better able to provide answers.

Meeting adjourned at 8:46.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

CRD Presentation Summary at Committee of the Whole Meeting Jan. 20, 2015

With thanks to the North Saanich Residents Association


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.”

Mayor and Councillors all present, except Councillor Stock – Councillor Gartshore chairing

Capital Regional District (CRD) Presentation

Representing the CRD were Nils Jensen, Mayor of Oak Bay and Chair of the CRD; Robert Lapham, the CAO; Diana Lokken, General Manager of Finance and Technology; Larisa Hutcheson, GM of Parks and Environment; Ted Robbins, GM of Integrated Water Services; Kevin Lorette, GM of Planning and Protective Services; and Signe Bagh, the executive in charge of the Regional Sustainability Strategy.

Mr. Jensen presented an overview of the CRD, its size, population, and composition; and provided a summary of its assets and services, and its current challenges, the two most important of which are Core Waste Water Treatment and the development and implementation of a Regional kitchen scraps strategy.

The CRD has just released the draft of its new Regional Sustainability Strategy (RSS.) Its basis will be the current Regional Growth Strategy reflected through the themes of Climate action, Community health and well-being, emergency management and natural disasters, energy systems, and food and agriculture systems. Each of the representatives from the CRD gave a brief overview of their roles, and that of their departments.

Signe Bagh described the current status of the RSS. Since the CRD has just made formal requests for feedback, both from its 13 municipalities and from the public, the process has now moved into the political realm. She acknowledged that different municipalities have different OCPs (and recognized North Saanich’s rural, marine and agricultural character, and its desire to maintain that character), but pointed out that across the region there is a substantial amount of overlap among OCPs. The CRD’s focus over the next, and final, stage of the RSS process would be on this overlap, and the potential for regional collaboration. Hence its desire for region-wide feedback.
Councillor Weisenberger asked if the CRD wanted this consultation to be driven by the municipalities, and Ms. Bagh stated that the CRD would be active in seeking public feedback and hoped that the municipalities would be as well.
Councillor Weisenberger then gave his opinion that the connection between the CRD and the general population was not strong, and Mr. Jensen answered by saying that he hoped that this process would help.

Ms. Bagh then listed the 6 objectives of the RSS:
1) Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
2) Be resilient
(for instance, in the face of challenges resulting from climate change)
3) Manage growth (here she repeated her acknowledgment that NS is essentially a rural
community, and stated that a growth containment area is proposed for NS, which does include some development areas that were discussed last year. If that is to change, NS would need to notify the CRD.
4) Foster well-being (eg. air quality )
5) Enhance natural environment (specifically parks, water, and agricultural land)
6) Optimize infrastructure (ie. “water in and water out”, in other words fresh water supply and waste water and sewage)

Diana Lokken then presented a one page graphic she called “CRD on a page”, a table of the direct responsibility, in dollar amounts, of the various municipalities to various regional services.
Councillor Orr then thanked the CRD representatives for the presentation, calling the RSS a great initiative.
Councillor Thornburgh established that individuals have until Feb.15th to fill out the RSS online feedback form.

[For more information on the process and to see the draft itself see the links below. ]

Councillor Gartshore asked about kitchen scraps, and was told that the kitchen scraps that are taken to Hartland Rd. are then shipped to a facility in Richmond. This procedure generates a smaller carbon footprint than the alternative of dealing with them at Hartland Rd.

Members of the public were then invited to speak, and Bernadette Greene asked if there had been a study done of the carrying capacity of the region’s agricultural lands (do we have enough agricultural land to feed all our residents?), stating that the sustainability and security of our local food supply depends upon the protection and enhancement of those lands. She pointed out that true sustainability requires that we maintain control of enough food-producing land to feed our population, and that it would be foolhardy to expect that any other government would protect their agricultural land in order to ensure that residents of the CRD are fed.
Ms. Bagh indicated that there is an agricultural sub-strategy group, and that those who are interested in food security and the agricultural component should contact that group.

Mayor Finall asked about the green power generated from kitchen scraps at the Richmond facility, and was told by Ms. Hutcheson that the power goes straight into the grid.
Mayor Finall then asked about any longterm proposals for kitchen scraps, specifically their use as compost by local farmers.
Mr. Jensen answered that the Environmental Services Committee would be seeking input and expressions of interest on processing kitchen scraps locally, and that in any decisions proximity and carbon footprints would be important.
Councillor Weisenberger asked about how a kitchen scrap recycling program would be coordinated with the private garbage pick-up companies, and was told by Ms. Hutcheson that the CRD would be communicating with the private companies, and leaving it up to them to contact their customers with the relevant information.
Mr. Lapham ended the presentation by stating that coordination between and among himself and his municipal counterparts, and the various staffs, is ongoing and important.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:30. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

NS Council meeting Summary Jan. 19, 2015

North Saanich Council Meeting - January 19, 2015

With thanks to the North Saanich Residents Association

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.”
  • Mayor Finall Chairing
  • Councillor Stock absent     
    Public Participation Period
    Colin Nielson addressed council on behalf of Amalgamation Yes.
    Bruce Tutt drew Council’s attention to his letter re: reactivation of the Downey Rd. Beach Access (see letter in correspondence section of Agenda). He pointed out that this issue has been before Council for many years, and has the support of many residents. Council confirmed endorsement of the project in 2008, and in 2013, the Parks Commission included the access in the Parks plan. Nothing has been done yet. Requested Council take action on this so that the access might be open in time for the 2015 beach season.
    Deanna Drschiwiski, East Saanich Rd. suggested uniting with Victoria library system.
    Petitions and Delegations
    Victoria Airport Authority (VAA)
    Geoff Dickson, James Crowley, Gordon Safarik
    VAA annually make brief presentation about year past
    Geoff Dickson: Total taxes paid by VAA to NS in 2014 was $854,000
    1.64 million passengers in 2014
    2014 projected profit before amortization – $12.2 million reinvested in capital programs James Crowley: 2014 Capital Additions -- $14.0 million Re-surfaced the runway during the night, so they didn’t need to close down the runway/airport.
    Gordon Safarik: 2015 Capital Program -- $13.1 Million
    Apron expansion, new baggage carousel, Parking lot expansion (400 more cars)
Sidney North Saanich RCMP:
Staff Sergeant Dennis O’Gorman (Detachment commander) Getting a new staff sergeant soon.

  • Beginning of year, I meet with CAO Buchan to ask what the district might want us to pay attention to/focus on. In the year, I also report to Council, answer any questions you may have. My main contact with district is through CAO, but also with Director of Finance Theresa Flynn.
  • Results on annual performance plan are excellent.
  • Created a 2 person crime reduction unit which focuses on prolific offenders – identify
    “bad guys” and focus on dealing with them, try to change their behaviours.
  • Plainclothes unit focuses on organized crime – we do have some in this area. Charged
    3 people in large marijuana grow-op in Sidney industrial area recently.
  • First Nations communities – a good relationship with First Nations communities is a
    priority for us.
  • District of NS is one of the safest communities of its size in BC
    Mayor Finall presented Staff Sergeant O’Gorman with a token of NS’s appreciation for his work over the past years.
    Mayor’s Report
    Attended first 2015 meeting of CRD board. Mayor Finall has been asked to chair the Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee, and has been appointed. CRD still working on Regional Sustainability Strategy.
    Staff Reports
    Revenue Anticipation Borrowing Bylaw: Ms. Flynn informed council that Staff is not anticipating using this, but need it for cash flow purposes.
Committee of the Whole Report (highlights)
Muse Winery
  • Coun. Orr spoke of concern that there was not more neighbourhood consultation,
    and the fact that 27 parking stalls will be placed on municipal boulevards, conferring
    a benefit to one business.
  • Mr. Buchan pointed out that consultation formally begins when statutory notification
    is sent out – that hasn’t happened yet. Community can also comment when this is brought to COW. Council can decide to expand the consultation process, but that takes more time and staff resources.
  • Coun. Gartshore wondered about having straight-in parking (not linear), and that might mean it could be on only one street but not the other.
  • Mr. Broderick pointed out that there are still some steps that need to be taken, we haven’t advanced as far as the variance yet.
  • Mayor Finall drew Council’s attention to the fact that there has been correspondence received, and that people have spoken about this at community meetings, and noted that some neighbours would like this to happen to assist the applicant.
    Council voted to refer this to the Agricultural Advisory Committee and to ask Staff to provide all the correspondence received thus far.
    Motion to include fireworks at fire hall in the Jubilee celebration. Carried.
    Jubilee Park
    (donated by VAA on Airport lands) – as part of NS’s 50
    th anniversary year celebration.
    Council was asked to consider funding park improvement to the Jubilee park. The Jubilee Committee would like to see a legacy of the Jubilee year. Not enough just to name the park, would like to see some work done on it. $10,000 buys a few benches and some trails, $25,000 will include landscaping and some other work. It’s here before council now, so that there can be some progress in time for the Jubilee celebration. Some of the funds will come from the $30,000 Jubilee budget.
    Ms. Flynn stated that staff will be reporting to Council about possible funding soon. Staff is preparing an infrastructure gap report.
    Council agreed that $10,000 be spent on the Jubilee Park.

Correspondence (highlights only )

Library services in North Saanich
Mayor Finall noted that it would be good to inform residents that the final decision regarding the library rests with the library board.

Downey Rd. Beach Access:
The potential sale, in 2008, of a property owned by the District at 852 Wain Rd. was discussed as being originally the potential source of funds being proposed to cover the creation of the Downey Rd. Beach Access. That 2008 sale did not go forward due to the perception that the sale in that real estate market would not realize the true value of the property, and subsequently the house was rented out. Now the house sits empty and there is a possibility that the property could be sold with proceeds used to cover Parks projects, including the Downey Rd. Beach Access.
Ms. Flynn indicated that she is presently working on a report about the rental property at 852 Wain Rd.
Coun. Orr asked if that report will also include the Denham Till house.
Ms. Flynn answered that that will be in a separate report.

Council agreed to wait for this information before deciding anything further on the Downey Rd. Beach Access.

Correspondence re: Landscaping at the McTavish Rd. Interchange:
Coun. Weisenberger inquired if there is a pesticide bylaw in NS.
Mr. Buchan said staff will research and advise. The province didn’t put in any irrigation at the McTavish Rd. exchange and so the existing landscaping is not thriving. He was pleased that district staff had the foresight not to take on the maintenance of that area, given the challenges posed by a lack of irrigation. 

Meeting adjourned. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Committee of the Whole Summary, January 12, 2015

With thanks to the North Saanich Residents Association

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."

Mayor and Councillors all present – Councillor Gartshore chairing
Public attendance – 10

Councillor Gartshore opened the meeting with the news of the passing of former mayor Maurice Chazottes.


The first item on the agenda was a presentation by Andrew Wynn-Williams, the Executive Director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness. He discussed the different types of homelessness, the spectrum of housing needs, the drivers of homelessness, vacancy rates and rental costs in the region, and data on the number of individuals who have accessed emergency shelter this past year and the number who have been turned away. Solutions to the problem of homelessness include the building of more Supportive Housing and more Affordable Housing, and the provision by senior levels of government of Rent Supplements. The costs of providing adequate housing and rent supplements would be less than the costs of operating shelters.
Mayor Finall, in reference to a letter that had been sent to her asking why no one seemed to be building affordable housing anymore, spoke of the funding cuts from the higher levels of government. Mr. Wynn-Williams concurred, stating that in 1989 the federal government spent $115 per capita on social housing, and that figure is now down to $60.
Councillor Weisenberger asked about the benefits of a Guaranteed Income Supplement.
Councillor Orr asked if it was possible to determine housing needs municipality by municipality, and was told that the problem is a regional one and has to be dealt with at that level. Councillor Orr also brought up the issue of defining “affordable”, and in answer to that Mr. Wynn-Williams stated that he works on the basis of a range of “affordable “ options – from $375/month to $700/month, and that to build any rental housing in the region below $600/month is almost impossible.
Councillor Thornburgh remarked on the economics of building supportive and affordable housing, that doing so was a cheaper option than operating shelters.
In conclusion Mr. Wynn-Williams stated that if we put an end to homelessness we will still need shelters, but they will just be emergency shelters. More information is available at


The Muse Winery has asked for a variance to be able to build 27 parking spaces on the boulevards adjacent, both Tatlow and Chalet Roads. It has promised to add 15 additional parking spaces on its property, and this will necessitate the removal of some grapevines.
Councillor Stock stated that she would support the application, and appreciates that the Muse is involved in both agriculture and the arts.
Mayor Finall expressed concerned that there would be no archaeological impact study. Councillor Orr counseled prudence, and asked about the number of days a year that the
extra parking would be needed.
Rob Buchan, the CAO, in answer to a question from Councillor Thornburgh, stated that a permit from Engineering would be required for the applicant to install culverts and then fill in the ditches (at the applicant’s expense).
Councillor Weisenberger asked if the 58 total spaces that the Muse says it requires will be enough to provide parking for all its events.
It was the opinion of Mark Broderick, Director of Planning, that for the operation of their business, yes, but for something like the Flavour Trail, no.
The motion voted on was to direct staff to proceed with amendments to Traffic Bylaw 1261, and then to direct staff to send out statutory notification but only upon a) receipt of bonding from the owners for the parking improvements, b) receipt of proof that the 15 additional parking spaces on-site have been built, and c) receipt of written confirmation that the archaeological branch has no concerns.
Mayor Finall stated that she thought they had achieved a proper balance on this; Councillor Orr worried about properly notifying and consulting with the Muse’s
The motion passed, with Councillor Orr voting against.


Theresa Flynn, the Director of Financial Services presented an overview of the Budget Process.
Some facts of note:
  • Growth in North Saanich last year will result in approximately $68,000 of new
    property tax revenue. Roughly 2/3 of that is residential growth, the rest is
  • The B.C. Property Tax Assessments have been delivered, and the net increase in
    assessments across North Saanich is zero.
    Councillor Thornburgh asked whether ethical investment factored into decisions about where NS “savings” are invested, and mentioned that Victoria is now looking into this for their own savings.
    Ms. Flynn advised that municipalities are limited in terms of where they can put this money, that they take a conservative approach, and that most of the money is in bonds and GIC’s. She indicated that she would be happy to look into what Victoria is doing.

  • Miscellaneous
  • Councillor McClintock asked a question about the process of public submissions: in what situations can a member of the public address Council if something is not on the agenda?
    Mr. Buchan advised that in the case of a development proposal, for example, the public should not be going directly to Council without going to staff first. 

  • The Committee of the Whole adjourned at 8:25. 

  • A Special Council meeting began soon thereafter. With no members of the public wishing to address Council, the meeting moved in camera. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Strategic Planning Sessions Summary January 7-8, 2015

North Saanich Committee of the Whole
Strategic Planning Sessions Summary

Jan. 7, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Jan. 8, 8:30 a.m. to approx. 3:15 p.m.

With thanks to the North Saanich Residents Association

[NB:  This is not a verbatim account of the meeting, merely an abridged “snapshot” of highlights, or matters we deemed of interest to the majority.  We did our best to be as accurate as possible, but errors may have occurred. Please consult the webcast for more detailed and accurate information.  Information is listed in order as it happened, not grouped according to subject.]

Allison Habkirk chairing.

Ms Habkirk gave an overview of the governance process.

Strategic Planning sets direction and goals
Establish shared values and standards/expectations
Guides the use of resources
Prioritizes initiative/work
Provides a roadmap to follow
Provides a basis for evaluating progress

She asked each Councillor to articulate what they hope to accomplish today and tomorrow.

Coun. Orr:  this is the chance for new councilors to articulate their visions, what they heard campaigning, develop together what they want to accomplish and overlay on strategic plan

Coun. Stock: mainly financing issues; Agricultural land issues; Parks, beaches (enhances quality of life for residents)

Coun. Weisenberger:  decision about OCP (review or?) – highest priority

Coun. Thornburgh:  Parks, trails, bike paths (more integrated?);  Communication with community;  Would like to know from residents how to improve neighbourhood meetings (number, format)

Coun. Gartshore:  sense of the bigger picture, and finding a vision we can all get behind

Coun. McClintock:  Clear understanding of what the strategic plan is;  seek clarity about what we’re capable of in the strategic plan (what’s possible)

CAO Rob Buchan explained how the process might unfold:
            Council comes up with range of what it wants to get done
            Draft plan gets sent back to staff
            Staff evaluates as to resources
            Report to Council – can it be done, how much cost
            Council makes decisions based on Staff feedback (reality check)

Director of Financial Services Theresa Flynn gave a financial overview:
1.62 % increase in taxes over last three years.  Had growth which helped us keep taxes down.  Labour contracts were increased.  Found cost savings, funded things differently, used surplus for some things.  Sooner or later need to cut services if we want to keep increases to 0%.  Reserves are quite healthy right now.  Doing a report on infrastructure gaps (asset management, such as water, sewer, pavement etc.).

New works:  Budget is created by staff, reviewed by Finance dep’t., then by CAO before coming to Council.  Staff then reports to Council what tax impacts will be created if new services are added.

Reserves:  Approximately $9,000,000 in reserves;  most reserves are slated for certain things
Over $500,000 put into general reserves each year

Mr. Buchan:  Reserves are used for things like parkland acquisition, infrastructure replacement.  Staff will report at the end of the month on needs into the future for replacing infrastructure.

Coun. Orr:  Statutory and non-statutory – what the difference?

Ms. Flynn:  Statutory reserve – there’s a bylaw:  we must have the reserves in place, tells what we’re collecting it for, from where, how much collecting each year
Non-statutory reserves – not as structured, it is not a separate item in the budget
Surplus:  If expenses are less or revenue is more, there is a surplus that can be set aside (eg. For an OCP review, we might use prior surpluses so we don’t need to increase taxes).  Surpluses that aren’t used are put into accumulated reserves
Debt:  $9,000,000 in debt
            Most is sewer debt from SEQ
            Pat Bay/Deep Cove sewer debt – spread over 32 years
Interest rates quite low
2014: more debt for the firehall improvement (10 – 15 years to pay off)
Debt servicing can not go over a certain amount (25%?) – mandated by province

Parcel taxes pay off sewer debt
User rates pay off sewer plant debt

Council then decided to go through the existing strategic plan to hear an update from staff on the status of each item (total 56 items).


Marine issues – Working with two adjacent municipalities re:  sea level rise

District Hall upgrades – assessing where the issues are

Support of local business:  NS class 6 (commercial) tax rate ratio compared to class 1 (residential) tax rate is the highest in province because we have a very low tax rate for residential.
            The tax rate for class 6 (commercial) in NS is very comparable to other class 6 rates in the region (about average).  Staff indicated that they have worked on getting the commercial rate down over the last few years.  Last year, we saw the most movement down in the commercial rate, because of the growth in that class.  The ratio will change if we see residential development grow.  Commercial development on Sandown will also affect this.

Mayor Finall pointed out that reducing class 6 commercial tax rates requires shifting more of the tax burden to residential.

Secondary suites policy:  work nearly complete on this.  Need a decision from Council.

Affordable housing:  Staff reported that the CRD is putting together a very comprehensive assessment of the region to determine what housing gaps may exist.  Should be completed this year.  Staff suggested Council consider where our gaps are, to possibly develop an affordable housing strategy.  We have limited lands for housing, so Council may want to be more strategic about where housing occurs.

Mayor Finall pointed out that there’s a lot of overlap in local affordable housing study efforts.  The CRD is bringing forward a model of affordable housing to municipalities. Gary Holman is working on a housing needs assessment for the Peninsula.
NS was one of the first to begin contributing to an affordable housing “fund” in 2005.  CRD has administration in place to determine the need.
Most of the earlier reports are anecdotal, but the reports commissioned by NS Councils over the years were looked at and assessed by the councils that followed, and the workable recommendations were implemented.
Director of Planning advocated looking at all the information (previous reports, CRD and Holman’s assessment), then determine how to move forward.

Meeting ended for the day.

January 8, 2015  8:30 a.m.

Ms. Habkirk asked Council to articulate what they actually want to get done over the next term:

Coun. McClintock (citing his “campaign promises”):  residential neighbourhood improvement
            Encourage involvement of community in emergency preparedness
            Timely response to applications to Council
            Balanced approach to building our community (one priority shouldn’t override another – eg. business shouldn’t take precedence over agriculture, agriculture shouldn’t take precedence over business)
            Working cooperatively with other jurisdictions in areas of common interest
            Fiscal responsibility and fresh energy

Coun. Stock:  secondary suites policy – finish
            Affordable housing policy
            Jubilee year celebration
            Study of waterfront property issues (review of policy?), including through the lens of sea level rise
            Review of Bylaw 1352
Coun. Gartshore:  Sandown
            Secondary suite policy
            Improve public confidence in building and planning
            Join CRD arts development fund – formalize that arrangement
            Affordable and workforce housing policy
            Bylaw 1352 – look at that, consult with residents of those areas and look at Local Area Planning

Coun. Thornburgh:  secondary suites
            Planning procedure review
            Local Area Planning
            Urban Containment Boundaries – look at that, make it more official, guide it to non-agricultural land
            Arts development fund
Mr. Buchan:  we don’t have UCB’s but we have service areas instead – unique to district
            They’re in our OCP, recognized by CRD – we can’t change them without CRD approval

Coun. Weisenberger:  Look at an OCP review (partial?) – review or rewrite?
            Strategy to deal with amalgamation study
Coun. Orr:  we need to think about the timeline of these as well – changes the priorities
            Short term:  Initiate area plans including Bylaw 1352 area
            Determine to what extent an OCP review is required
            How do we exercise community building?  Believe community wants to be involved

            Midterm ideas:  taxation strategy on a longterm basis
            Bylaw review
            Implementation of Ag. task force
            Boat ramp on west side of peninsula
            Housing dialogue – don’t lose momentum, particularly in this next year

Mayor Finall:  Amending Bylaw 1352 is the first priority
I believe election results indicate that we don’t need an OCP review – the community has responded as to how they want their community
Waterfront review has begun – Marine Task force made recommendations, let’s bring those recommendations back and have a dialogue with waterfront property owners about those
Needs of agriculture are a priority for me
Arts funding
Secondary suites
Amalgamation – wording of the question does not mean we are asking province to carry out the study itself

Coun. Weisenberger:  I would suggest we fund our own study on amalgamation with Sidney and Central Saanich

Staff Strategic priorities suggestions:

Strengthen district’s emergency planning by addressing Royal Roads report
            Director of Emergency Services Gary Wilton is working on that
Revisit the wildfire interface
Develop a policy regarding section 57 notices – reduce our scope of interest.  We don’t need to be looking at every little building, or ones that have been there for a long time
Work on energy efficient development permit area
Review implementation of communication strategy and suggest priorities
Review advisory commission framework
Complete a policy manual review –separate council and administrative policy      manuals (?)
Complete a municipal hall review
Engage in and complete a library service review with regional library
Continue advocacy with prov. Gov’t. re NavCan and ferries
Continue with infrastructure funding gap review

Motion to include letter from Springfield Harrison and other residents, regarding concerns about Bylaw 1352 and CTQ report, and accompanying documents, in agenda.  Carried.  Mr. Buchan pointed out that he has a binder of all the supporting documents, which he will put in the reading room.

Existing plan Strategies – Highlights only

Climate change, sea level rise, storm surge etc. -- Staff indicated that 240 to 250 properties are anticipated to be impacted by this;  there are properties in the district which are development candidates that are impacted by sea level rise, so this is more urgent
Mayor:  Not just Waterfront owners affected, these affect whole municipality.   We may have these effects much sooner than previously anticipated.  Municipality will have liability, and then we will be told we should have known, and this liability will be borne by the whole municipality. 
Mr. Buchan:  every report is indicating that sea level rise is happening a whole lot quicker than originally anticipated;  we might need to develop policies to mitigate climate change
Coun. Orr:  if we don’t consider wave effects, we still have storm surge issues re:  liability.  People want to be part of that dialogue.
Mr. Broderick:  we’ve been meeting weekly to discuss this.  We need to understand the baseline map, do we agree with the assumptions that went into it? Can we communicate that?  The map brings us from conceptual thinking to reality.  I’m looking at it from a systems approach, the overall impact to the shoreline.  Some thinking that these are natural systems and we should let them play out.  CRD tells staff to have a “climate change lens”.

Council agreed that preparing an emergency planning training policy for staff and Council is a high priority, as well as educating public.

NS has just renewed a contract with the RCMP for 20 years.

Commercial and residential tax rates:
Staff:  We have reduced the ratio significantly from about 12% in 2005 to 4.8% in 2012(?)  Still highest in province, as a ratio, but within average range for other municipalities

Council wishes to continue to:   support the Flavour Trail
            Engage in frequent and early public consultation
Affordable housing:
Ms. Habkirk suggested:  looking at background reports, receiving CRD gap analysis, having a special council meeting to discuss this issue, move toward policy development
Mr. Buchan:  staff could give you a comprehensive listing of what options are available to you for affordable housing
Council can issue a statement of intent of policy going forward (regarding Bylaw 1352)
Council can’t establish a moratorium, but can establish an (interim) policy to deal with applications that may come forward.  Council can say yes to development or no.
Mayor Finall:  One of the issues that faces staff and council is that the changes are quite obscure.  Staff needs to start from scratch in developing policies.
Mr. Buchan:  this is not dissimilar to the creation of neighbourhood plans.  What I believe council is saying is that we need these plans
Council did resolve that there would be neighbourhood plans.

[Lunch break]

Resident Spring Harrison gave a brief presentation of resident group’s concerns re:  the CTQ report and Bylaw 1352

Mayor Finall:  while in my opinion it would be clean and easy to rescind bylaw 1352, it also includes Sandown, so amending rather than rescinding would make more sense.
Director of Corporate Services Curt Kingsley:  the latest cases that we’ve been advised of by municipal solicitors is that municipalities have some latitude to reconsider bylaws
Mr. Buchan:  Council can do a resolution of intent to head down that path now

Councillors were asked to share their positions (at the moment) on Bylaw 1352, which they did.  Of note:

Mayor Finall:  I’m in favour of immediate amendment of 1352 for many reasons:
n  no planning went into this bylaw
n  council doesn’t even have the basis for decision on any individual application
n  traffic, parking (traffic issues are already a problem in that area)
n  on the day council adopted its first draft strategic plan, they brought forward a high density development without any draft plan
n  I believe these changes were necessary to allow two more higher density housing projects to proceed
n  The seven bylaw changes were brought forward in one bundle to the public meeting – difficult for residents to address
n  No public consultation – resident-organized meetings were what informed people
n  Level of votes made it very clear that what was done by previous council was not acceptable to the voters
n  The basis for what was done, and the changes that were made, were based on wrong information.  Housing projections are current and have not been reached yet.  When bylaw was proposed, projections were completely unrealistic, and deliberately inflated by including adjacent First Nations populations
n  A complete change to the identity of NS
n  There was a suggestion that it provided for a need, but that simply wasn’t supported by NS residents.

Most Councillors indicated that they were generally in favour of amending, or possibly rescinding, Bylaw 1352.
Ms. Habkirk:  one option would be to go back to the previous OCP policy, and previous RCS (have to ask CRD to amend)
Mr. Buchan:  re:  RCS:  if a total rescind is possible, and collateral damage of Sandown, then go back to previous context statement that allows Sandown.
We can provide recommendations re that.

OCP review:
Mr. Buchan:  An OCP review may cost 200,000 to 300,000, as well as take 2-3 years
Ms. Habkirk:  if you really want to engage the community, it takes at least a year of public engagement to do a good job.  Then six months of referrals (to First Nations, the province, etc.)
Mr. Buchan:  if you take out 1352 altogether and JUST look at OCP, the question to ask is:  is the current vision serving us well.  How often are we back doing amendments to facilitate applications, etc.?  How relevant do we think the OCP is?
Coun. Orr:  think we need to be careful not to bind the OCP to the idea of 2-3 year process.
We got here because we didn’t want to do a whole OCP review, so we did the other process.
Mr. Broderick:  If thinking of amending bylaw 1352, some applications have gone through, and can’t be overturned (eg. Going development on McDonald Park Rd. and Canora/Rideau/Reay Creek).  Through my contributions to the RSS, I recommended CRD include areas 1 and 2 in the new Growth containment boundary.  Council needs to give direction to staff if we need to give CRD different directions.
Mr. Buchan:  to tell us to come up with report is enough for us to express policy intent to applicants who come forward.
Ms. Habkirk:  it sounds like there is lots of agreement on changes to 1352, not as much agreement on how and when, need information from staff on options, and addressing concerns.  I suggest you ask for suggestions on potential interim options.

Back to HOUSING:

Staff:  Review of potential 520 units proposal indicated there was enough treatment plant capacity, but some sewer upgrades may be required.  Pump upgrade is sufficient for Canora Mews and Reay Creek Meadows, but not enough for all of 520 new units.

Strategic Priority #55.  Central Saanich First Nations are within municipal boundaries, so they can vote.  For some unclear reason:  Not so with Pauquachin and Tsaykum – not within municipal boundaries, so they can’t vote in municipal elections.

Ms. Habkirk:  Haven’t heard an overwhelming desire to review OCP.  Perhaps better to look at particular areas of OCP and talk about them. 

Coun. Weisenberger:  I’d like us to look at housing, not take more than a year, not cost too much

Council agreed on looking at:
            Interface fire hazard
            Waterfront regulations and bylaws
            Housing issues
Assigned them all a medium priority

            District will look into getting some money from province to perform study, and Council will take this to the Tri-Municipal meeting on Feb. 11, perhaps to collaborate on it with the two adjoining municipalities.
Under staff advice, council agreed to send correspondence to the province to request funding for own study – CARRIED   Priority:  High

Staff recommendations were discussed and assigned priority levels.

End of meeting