Council made the move earlier last week after fears in the community emerged the district-owned land, known as Lot A, could be used for unwanted commercial purposes if zoned as commercial-mixed (CTC) instead of P2, which would otherwise impede any private entity to set up shop there.
Not all on council agreed, saying the mixed-use of the land was in order to keep the district’s options open for future development.
“This is a key piece of property for our future development in downtown, and I think has a wide variety of potential use, all covered by CTC,” said Coun. Kevin Pearson, who initially voted in favour of mixed use commercial zoning. “This is not a piece of property we want to make money off of, this is putting it together for our town centre.”
Pearson added the land is still owned by the district, and whatever goes there will still be dictated by mayor, council and the Sooke community.
“We own the land. We and other future councils are not going to sell this and give it to a gas station,” he said.
Other councillors, such as Coun. Brenda Parkinson, said P2 zoning would be a guarantee that no commercial business or other kinds of developments, such as a gas bar, condominiums or industrial businesses, could go there.
“If they want to put those items on our land, we can’t say no,” she said.
Despite moving forward with the initiative to build the new 10,000-square-foot Vancouver Regional Island Library, its location on Lot A still drew fire from some Sooke residents, arguing its location is still not exactly “downtown Sooke.”
“It’s far reaching to call it a downtown,” Sooke resident Ellen Lewers told council, noting 10 surrounding land owners are concerned about the development of the library on Lot A.
Regardless of which zoning goes through, there will be a development permit coming to council following rezoning and site preparation, said district staff.
Mayor Maja Tait also supported the P2 zoning instead of the CTC, adding there will be a public hearing for the new zoning, and changes could be done as the library moves forward.
“If something come came forward that would not fit into P2, then a rezoning would occur, and that would trigger a public hearing, but I strongly feel we need a plan for these lands,” she said.