The regular District of Sooke council meeting on February 11, dealt with the following items on the agenda.
• Council adopted Bylaw 575 – Fire Protection Services Amendment Bylaw which updated the responsibilities of the fire chief and amending the schedules – frequency of inspections, fees and equipment and personnel.
• Bylaw 582 – Zoning Amendment Bylaw – Medical Marijuana Production Facilities.
Council introduced and gave first and second reading to Bylaw 582 and will schedule a Public Hearing. The bylaw will regulate marijuana production facilities under applicable zones in the district. No one was opposed.
Councillor Maja Tait stated she did not support the federal government’s position on medical marijuana grow operations and was concerned about concrete bunkers on Agricultural Land Reserve lands because they would “sterilize” food production land.
Planner Gerard LeBlanc said the Agricultural Land Commission considers medical marijuana production an agricultural use and anyone want to consider a grow op needs to go through the licencing process according the federal guidelines. Any building would need the setbacks requirements of intensive production facility.
Federal regulations take effect April 1, 2014.
• Bylaw 583, Zoning Amendment Bylaw which dealt with text amendments was adopted.
Council approved the 2014 Licence of Occupation with the Sooke Region Food CHI at the Sunriver Community Garden.
The Finance and Administration Committee recommended approval of the 2014-2018 Five Year Financial Plan. Council granted preliminary approval of the plan and a Fire Department Capital Replacement Plan.
The five-year plan shows a proposed property tax increase of 2 per cent, which did not sit well with Coun. Herb Haldane who said, “When the economy is down, people should get a break.”
Council approved a recommendation from the F&A Committee to direct staff to obtain quotes for an independent study and review of the long term capital replacement plan for the fire department; and to confirm options available to extend the life of a fire department vehicle for active use.
Coun. Tait opposed the motion stating she has issues with spending money on a review.
Mayor Wendal Milne said the district needs to know exactly what was needed and when it has to be replaced.
“We want the best bang for the buck,” he said.
The district wants to set aside money for new vehicles and they need someone who has the time to weigh everything.
“It’s a fairly onerous job,” said Milne.
Coun. Rick Kasper said the district was not prepared to go into a deficit position (in the reserve fund) as happened in 2012.
The next District of Sooke council meeting is on February 24 at 7 p.m.