District of Sooke council has been struggling with what was Bylaw 500. The bylaw was rescinded and is now Bylaw 600, encompassing all of the changes made over the past number of weeks.
Members of the public came before council and to the open houses to get more information and to state their views on the proposed zoning changes, which were made previously without proper public input and comment. In trying to be in compliance with the Official Community Plan some zone uses have changed. Some property owners are aware, some may not be until the time comes when they might wish to subdivide or change their uses.
What is at issue here is that while the open houses are an attempt to inform the public, nothing that is said at them is recorded into any minutes. Council has already voted on the changes and the bylaw will go to first and second reading on Dec. 17. Now, one wonders if the Public Hearing will do anything to change what has already been agreed upon. A Public Hearing is the process where comments are recorded and become part of the public process but will it make any difference?
This is not a slam at council, but it is at the system where bylaws can often be rushed through to meet some deadline, leaving people scratching their heads. Local council is the only government level where taxpayers can make a difference and it is at this level that the duly elected need to listen carefully to the public, all of the public.