Industrial lands omnibus bylaw set for public hearing

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Members of the public will have their chance to give input on a number of proposed changes to industrial land uses under new “general employment” zoning at a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The Salt Spring Local Trust Committee could potentially act on the information received at the hearing during their final LTC meeting of the governance term on Oct. 18, with strong motivation to complete work on a project that has been in the works for six years.

But some members of the public are concerned about the apparent end-rush to a long and complicated process. They feel there was little notification given to residents or time to learn about the potential impacts of a new series of amendments made to the bylaws on Aug. 16 that included a number of potential “upzonings.”

“I don’t go to Trust meetings as a matter of course, so I had no idea this was happening,” Greg Slakov said on Monday.

Slakov lives near 251 Fulford-Ganges Road, a property that could receive new legal uses favouring the Salt Spring Metal Recycling business.

“I can understand wanting to get it done quickly, but I don’t think that overrides our right to be informed of zoning that will change things for us,” he said.

adequate supply of industrial lands, the owners of properties where industrial uses are taking place have been invited to maximize their potential and legalize certain activities if they are not already zoned for them. After a public hearing in February generated considerable pushback from industrial property owners who would be affected by the changes, another round of consultation resulted in a series of requests, which the LTC decided to incorporate in order to hear public feedback.

While all the properties were slated for rezoning under new “general employment” categories, a few had new uses added to the bylaws for the first time in August. Some affected parties only learned about the changes after notices for the Oct. 16 public hearing were published.

Slakov said his front door is around 105 metres away from a Salt Spring Metal Recycling car crushing bin, and he estimates 25 residential properties are located within 200 metres of the business. Prior to August, proposed rezoning of the site from Industrial 1 to GE 1 would have carried the same restrictions. The new variant as of August would make all current uses compliant. Permitted uses would include vehicle and other metal dismantling and recycling, a laundromat, and storage of up to eight derelict vehicles.

Staff have recommended against the zoning upgrade, noting in the Aug. 16 staff report the business did not appear compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood and had generated abundant bylaw enforcement complaints.

Neighbours Karen and Walt Madro are among those who have made complaints in the past, and are disturbed to not receive direct notification of proposed zoning changes now.

“We’ve been trying to work constructively with the Trust and bylaw enforcement for three years, since April 2015, and to not be included in any of this is beyond frustrating,” said Walt Madro.

Keith Ballantyne, who lives across the road behind Bishop’s Walk, has also made multiple complaints about noise. After hearing about the new rezoning proposal from a friend last week, he circulated a petition in the immediate neighbourhood. As of Tuesday he had approximately 30 signatures.

Staff’s recommendation for a more cautious approach to the overall project timeline received support at the Sept. 27 LTC meeting from trustee Peter Grove, who argued in favour of scheduling the public hearing after the Oct. 20 election. In contrast, LTC chair Peter Luckham and Salt Spring trustee George Grams argued the importance of moving ahead with the project.

“This Local Trust Committee has spent two terms considering this legislation. Not to conclude it this term would be an injustice, and to pass this on to new trustees, potentially new trustees  — it’s an enormous piece of work,” Grams said. “The public hearing should take place this term, without any question. That doesn’t mean changes can’t be made subsequently.”

Grove has also re-assured residents that having the public hearing “does not mean the bylaw will move ahead as presented and/or that it will be passed at the last LTC of this term on Oct. 18.”

Other expanded uses

Another major change to the project since the last public hearing is the inclusion of 124 Lee Rd. under the Community Facility 2 zone to permit the existing waste transfer station, as per a long-standing request from owners Laurie and Nancy Hedger. The facility has operated under a CRD waste transfer licence for the past 15 years.

The LTC has also made amendments to permit expanded uses and/or legalize existing uses at the following properties:

115 Desmond Cres – outdoor storage of vehicles; 156 Alders – outdoor storage of vehicles; 340 Lower Ganges Road – carwash, laundromat and pet washing facilities; 331 Upper Ganges Road – commercial truck storage, bulk fuel storage, construction aggregate, and heavy equipment; 181 Beddis Road – outdoor storage of derelict vehicles, storage of waste materials, and outdoor storage of goods and vehicles; 225 Beddis Road – commercial truck storage, bulk fuel storage, construction aggregate, and heavy equipment;  1415 Fulford-Ganges Road – bulk fuel storage, vehicle dismantling and commercial truck storage.

A community information meeting where staff will outline the changes and take questions will take place at Meaden Hall from 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 16. The public hearing portion follows at 7:30 p.m.

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