Municipalities rely on bylaws in order to operate and that fact does not change. The bylaws themselves, however, are subject to change under a variety of circumstances.
The District of Sooke is changing its zoning bylaw – a major step considering the document basically sets out the template for where, how, and how fast the district will grow.
District council’s Committee of the Whole heard on March 21 from a couple of consultants representing a firm which has crafted a draft zoning bylaw to replace the one that had been on the books since 2006.
Those consultants (Bev Suderman and Chris Hall attended the C.O.W. meeting) and others from Island Planning Services Consortium plus district staff had spent a good deal of time working on the draft bylaw since last December. The draft bylaw had apparently gone through some tweaking on its way to the Monday evening scrutiny.
The C.O.W. spent a couple of hours going over various points and concerns with the consultants and eventually gave the nod to the idea of presenting the amended document to the public for its judgement.
Councillor Ron Dumont hoped people would be able to find out all they wanted about the draft bylaw, and take part in the public approval process even if they didn’t happen to be web-savvy. He received some reassurance in relation to the various open houses scheduled on the topic, and advertising the availability of hard copy questionnaires, etc.
The issue of parking that arises when densities go up through the allowance of secondary suites was broached by Councillor Maja Tait.
Chris Hall said the matter had been closely studied, and that one idea had been to demand larger frontages for lots where suites are allowed.
“We could require more parking requirements,” said Hall.
Another topic of discussion was the concept of “Recession Planes,” a way of orienting streets that deals with the formula of balancing people’s views with available daylight.
Also touched upon was the revised manufactured home zone.
The creation of the new zoning bylaw was necessitated by the adoption of Sooke’s new Official Community Plan in the last year or so. The OCP was several years in the making and the new zoning bylaw is the method by which the district’s vision can be put into reality.
As detailed by the consultants’ report, the key features of the fresh document are:
• a user guide to make it easier to understand;
• fewer zones… with clearer distinction between them;
• simplified terminology;
• updated language and phraseology.
Key policy areas
District of Sooke Corporate Officer Bonnie Sprinkling indicated that bylaws are continually open for revision, some more than others, depending on a variety of factors. She mentioned that the original set of bylaws were inherited from the CRD when Sooke incorporated. Otherwise changes may be made when problems are recognized, or when a significant number of complaints are registered.
The draft zoning bylaw is ready for your inspection right away if you’re able to log onto the District of Sooke Website – www.sooke.ca. Or you may find it convenient to take in one of the following open houses:
• April 4, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., a poster board session specifically for seniors with a presentation of the new Zoning Bylaw at 1 p.m. (Location: Sooke Municipal Hall in the Seniors Centre);
• April 4, 4 – 7 p.m., a poster board session at SEAPARC to catch parents as they drop off and pick up their children for recreation events;
April 14, 4 – 8 p.m., a poster board session as part of a larger District of Sooke Open House, showcasing various initiatives by the district.