Two neighbouring Metchosin societies butted heads over a boundary change which left one group’s “planning in jeopardy” and a councillor apologizing to the public.
The debate stems from a new lease agreement approved by Metchosin council during its Dec. 12 meeting. The Metchosin Equestrian Society and Metchosin Museum Society have land usage agreements with neighbouring properties on Happy Valley Road.
On Dec. 12, Metchosin’s district council voted to renew the museum society’s lease for the municipal barn, a historic property owned by the district, for one year. The terms of that lease set the boundary between them and the equestrian society at five metres, cutting back on the eight-metre boundary which had been the terms of the museum society’s previous lease for 2021 to 2022.
The eight-metre boundary led to a “discrepancy” as the District of Metchosin described it in a staff report between the museum society and the the neighbouring equestrian society’s lease. That agreement was re-signed in 2021 on a five-year term till 2026, which had the boundary set at five metres, allowing the equestrian society more space to park their horse trailers.
Jim MacPherson, president of the Metchosin Museum Society, presented to councillors during the Dec. 12 meeting. He said that the museum society was surprised by the boundary change, adding that it may disrupt plans for a display of agricultural equipment on the west side of the museum society’s property.
“Our planning is now in jeopardy because of the change in the district’s proposed renewal,” he said.
In the same meeting, Coun. Steve Gray apologized to the public and his fellow councillors for speaking too long during the Dec. 12 council meeting, during which he spoke strongly in favour of the eight-metre boundary.
Ellen Dewar, a Metchosin resident involved with the equestrian society said the eight-metre boundary would create a safety concern.
“This space is vital to our society because our parking area is already difficult to manoeuvre with multiple-sized truck and trailer combinations. We are most appreciative to have use of this space and this beautiful facility. For the most part our drivers are courteous and careful, and we manage quite well, given the tight parking space. However, if we were to lose any of this space, I hope you can appreciate our predicament,’ it would simply make our parking area non-functional,” she wrote in a letter to council.
Delaying the lease would have meant that, due to insurance liability issues, the museum and the attached bookstore would have to shut down.
Ultimately, Metchosin council opted to vote in favour of approving the lease for one year. During the meeting on Jan. 9, Mayor Marie-Therese Little said the one-year agreement would give the district time to survey the area and work with the societies on a solution.
Gray was the only councillor who voted against the bylaw, saying there wasn’t enough information.
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