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Sooke land changed from agricultural to residential

Change highlights flaws in OCP
The property at 5536 Sooke Road had been listed as Agricultural in the Official Community Plan. That designation has now been changed. (Tim Collins/Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke district council has amended the official community plan, or OCP, to delete a parcel of land located at 5536 Sooke Rd from its designation as agricultural.

The move was characterized as a housekeeping issue by district staff as the land had incorrectly received that designation when the OCP was adopted in 2010.

The mistake, according to a staff report, was based on incorrect data provided by the Agricultural Land Commission at that time.

FURTHER READING: What is the Agricultural Land Commission?

Since that time, said the report, the ALC has updated its mapping and now shows the entirety of 5536 Sooke Rd. as outside of the Agricultural Land Reserve, meaning that it no longer belongs in the agricultural land use designation in the OCP.

“This is just another example of why the OCP should be totally reviewed and redone,” said Coun. Rick Kasper.

“The truth is that the ALC never signed off on the District of Sooke’s OCP. That was a statutory requirement and it should have been done, yet they say they never saw it.”

Kasper went on to question why the work that had been done to review the OCP during the past several years had come to a stop after some planning staff were lost.

“Really, the work was half done and there’s a cardboard box full of the work that the previous employee had done. Now it sits in a cardboard box,” he said.

“We had a draft report presented and then the whole thing stopped like a buck watch.”

According to Kasper, the existing OCP is riddled with “doublespeak and gobbledegook” that can be interpreted in several different ways. He said in 2014, council received legal advice that the OCP needed to be cleaned up and that obvious flaws needed to be corrected.

Another issue regarding the OCP came to the fore on Monday as it was found that several properties in the Gateway Residential zone had, for years, been engaged in non-conforming business operations.

With the adoption of the bylaw amendment, the portion of 5536 Sooke Road will be included in the Gateway Residential land use designation in the current OCP.

The majority of candidates currently running for council have cited a review of the OCP as one of their priorities.

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