District of Sooke council spent a good portion of the council meeting, on Nov. 26, discussing the implications of Bylaw 500 on residential and commercial properties.
Staff had brought five items in the new zoning bylaw before council for consideration.
Commercial zones were first on the list as council discussed whether to make changes to the zone or leave the C2 zone as is.
“The goal of Bylaw 500 was to reduce the number of zones by combining or eliminating,” said planner Tracey Olsen. She added this was to be consistent with the Official Community Plan.
One of the options was to create a new zone for neighbourhood pubs and liquor stores.
There were concerns whether this would mean increased assessments for the property owners.
Mayor Wendal Milne said he was not sure what the implications were with the change in uses. He did not feel there was any need for change.
Jay Ryan, co-owner of Buffy’s said his only concern was how it would affect his taxes as he had no plans to change the uses allowed on his property.
“I feel I’m in the middle of a tax grab,” he said.
Also included in the commercial zone was the idea of creating two separate commercial zones defining what can happen on either side of Sooke Road.
Councillor Herb Haldane stated that there were 22 businesses which would be affected and the bylaw would force them to rezone. He requested an OCP amendment.
After batting this issue back and forth council opted to send the item back to staff.
Minimum lot sizes in the Rural Residential Zone brought a lot of comment from council. Coun. Haldane stated that those affected residents “just want their rights back.”
At issue is a new minimum lot size of 1,000 sq. metres for properties added to the Sewer Specified Area and reduced setbacks for lots 1,000 sq. metres or smaller, and a minimum lot size of one hectare outside the SSA. Staff stated that this was a condition of receiving substantial funding for the municipal sewer system, and VIHA regulations.
A new zone for Group Moorage was added which involved 39 previously unrecognized water lease areas in the Sooke Harbour and Basin.
Olsen said there was no plan to change any upland zoning. Permitted used include boat ramp, breakwater, fishing, group moorage and passive recreation.
Apartment building and townhouse zones were discussed which mean two new zones in Bylaw 500 creating an exclusive residential zone in the town centre.
All of these issues will come before the public at the next open house on Dec. 5 at the municipal hall.
Residents and property owners will have the opportunity to provide input to staff and council at that time.
On another note, council endorsed a letter of support for the Ayre Manor Expansion proposal which will see 56 new beds in the complex care centre.