A public hearing may soon be scheduled regarding a property in Roberts Creek where four recreational vehicles are currently non-compliant, but are seeking approval for temporary use.
Staff recommended dropping applications for 1220 Lockyer Road, which would require an amendment to the Roberts Creek Official Community Plan (OCP) and, if approved, a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) would be requested for review the proposed use with conditions.
On March 17, Sunshine Coast Regional Directors (SCRD) were nearly split over the decision. Directors Lori Pratt (Halfmoon Bay), Leonard Lee (Zone A) and Mark Hiltz (Zone F) voted for the proposal to move forward. Roberts Creek manager Andreas Tize and Elphinstone manager Donna McMahon voted against, as recommended by staff. (Only rural administrators were able to vote on this motion.)
The vote was taken at a meeting of the Planning and Community Development Committee, so the motion will still need to be passed at a council meeting before the decision is official. Then the public hearing will be scheduled and the staff will draft the proposed terms for a potential TUP.
Comments and Concerns
In her presentation to the trustees, lead planner Julie Clark said there was “considerable opposition” to the proposal. A public information session was organized by the applicant on 27 January, which was attended by approximately 85 people. Although the staff report noted some support for the request, concerns included health and safety, environmental health, risk to immediate neighbours, liability and insurance, business intent, affordability for tenants, equity, long-term intentions, parking and current density on the property. .
“The staff wish to acknowledge that a decision one way or the other will lead to undesirable results. With respect for all involved, in particular with compassion for the tenants of the property, the recommendation of the staff is to abandon the rule change,” Clark said.
The request was also referred to several agencies for comment. The staff report notes that the shíshálh nation is “not opposed to abandoning the proposed settlement” and has requested geotechnical, archaeological and biological assessments of the property. The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation encouraged the proper connection and disposal of sewage and water, as well as no campfires or open flames, and installation of unisex toilets instead of portable toilets, among other suggestions . Vancouver Coastal Health is requesting a formal evaluation of the sewage system by a sewage professional and noted that no sewer system upgrades have been filed with VCH in the past three years since the addition of RVs. Retroactive filing under the BC Sewerage Regulation will need to be considered, VCH responded in its SCRD response.
During the meeting, staff said MOTI does not oppose the proposal, but wants to ensure that RVs comply with the 4.5 meter setback from the freeway. MOTI also requires drainage to be managed on site and the removal of a drain pipe leading to the multi-use trail. Area D APC recommended dropping the application and asked the SCRD to arrange a flexible schedule to allow current tenants to find alternative accommodation. The official Roberts Creek Community Plan Commission (OCPC) also opposes the amendment request, citing its belief that the land use will set a precedent, among other concerns.
Manager Pratt said he came out in favor of a TUP as a way to hold the owner accountable.
“I think it’s going to take a long time for the people here to find another place [to live]. So providing a limited time through the Temporary Use Permit process that brings the property into compliance does not penalize residents of that property in the same way,” she said, adding that TUP can “offer some compassion to the local government and provide some assurance to the community that there will eventually be an end to this.
Gibsons manager David Croal said he was sorry he couldn’t vote on the matter, but said there were “no good alternatives” during the coast’s housing crisis and pointed out that although an emergency housing committee started more than a year ago, it is not a “shovel in the ground”.
“I think the big picture is that we’re dealing with human beings here,” Croal said.
A “lose-lose situation”
But area manager Tize said it was a “lose-lose situation”. He said the process had caused an erosion of public confidence in the SCRD and the elected council. Tize spoke out in favor of affordable housing, but said: ‘This Wild West approach to infill housing is not something I can support.
“I don’t think there is a good solution to this problem. On the one hand, we may be evicting tenants who have unwittingly engaged in this process. On the other hand, there is a clear violation of several health rules and regulations that have been put in place for a reason,” Tize said, adding that the public had raised “legitimate concerns.”
Tize “reluctantly” moved the staff’s recommendation to drop the request, but that motion was defeated.
The OCP amendment request received first reading on December 9. It could receive second reading at the next SCRD board meeting, which is scheduled for March 24. Staff will also review the consistency of the amending by-law with the 2022-2026 financial plan and waste management plan and report to council. When this council report is presented, a public hearing may be scheduled.