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.

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