Letters: Land Use Committee gone rogue?

Question is raised about potential conflict of interest around the council table

Open Letter to Mayor and Council:

 

Land use committee, consisting of two developers, one council developer, one wife of builder.

I know that councilors try to remain neutral but when push comes to shove how neutral are they? A developer, who may have pecuniary interest in development property, makes a motion to reduce amenity costs to developers. No one called a point of order but instead went ahead and voted to lower costs to developers with three developers voting. This went to council and was again supported.

Staff recommended that a financial review be carried out before putting this forward, but the majority of council ignored the professionals and with their jaded views voted against the recommendation of staff. I will note here that the land use committee does not contact staff for clarification or query in any way the information given them or give advice, rather they grandstand at meetings and waste valuable staff time and everyone’s time.

Why do we have the professional staff and pay them so well and then ignore their recommendations or choose not to confer with them? They either have the answers or access to them.

I supported and asked that there be a land use committee to speed up process, by hearing from the community and dealing with concerns before projects came to council. Instead the land use committee has become an arena for committee members to harass and belittle staff. Somehow, when elected, the members are now the professionals with all the knowledge and the developers know exactly what should be done, they even write the bylaws which are passed by council. Something wrong here? You bet.

Council approved their strategic plan to be fiscally responsible and to build a vibrant downtown and with one full swoop, in the vote for amenities, they voted to perhaps increase taxes  so developers pay less and voted to decrease costs outside the downtown from $5,000 to $2,000.

Guess where the building will be if any? Langford is down by 50 per cent in building permits. It stands to reason that the economy for building in Sooke  will be even worse. We have witnessed the downturn here in the late 80’s when many truck drivers, sold their trucks, excavators etc. and some even moved out of the country. The building industry is like that and the economy is down and that is a reality. We all do with less if working for ourselves, retail or developers. It happened in the 20’ and the 30’s. The banksters continue to make money as they lend out money and receive interest and we do without but must pay the banks.

Developers will need to find the market niches and survive or fall. Council is not here to subsidize the businesses, with taxpayer money. Council appears to be tough on groups looking to subsidize their incomes and developers are businesses, so keep on being tough and build our

community slowly and with respect for the people and the land.

Regards for a healthy community

Ellen Lewers

Sooke