On April 14, Ucluelet council approved an Official Community Plan (OCP) and rezoning amendment application for the properties at 316 and 330 Reef Point Rd., commonly known as the Lodge Property.
A public hearing held on April 8 gave community members the opportunity to voice concerns about the application. The Lodge Property is part of a subdivision created in 1997, and the property was originally zoned R-1 Single Residential.
In 2004, council adopted a bylaw to change the zoning to Guest House. According to district staff, the Lodge Property does not conform to the Guest House zoning. By changing the land use designation of both lots to Tourist Commercial, the applicant Ron Clayton will continue business operations as usual. As a condition of the agreement, the applicant will also construct a staff complex.
Michelle Belanger lives in the Reef Point Estates neighbourhood where the Lodge Property is located. She told the Westerly she was disappointed with council’s decision, but not surprised.
“All along, this has felt like a ‘done deal’, and the lack of meaningful discussion about the many issues we raised at the Public Hearing further confirms this,” said Belanger.
“No one on council stated why they supported the up-zoning other than a general statement about needing to do what is best for the whole community. It seems clear that commercial interests and the promotion of tourism supersede all other considerations, and that longterm residents of Ucluelet cannot count on council to safeguard their interests,” she said.
Reef Point resident Jens Heyduck said: “It is unfortunate that council voted unanimously in favour of the company. I fail to see any compromise, which would have acknowledged the concerns of local property owners in balance with the applicants needs. Instead, the decision fosters a complaint-driven culture, as the decision seems to have been based on the lack of formal bylaw complaints on record. It gratifies the mindset ‘It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission’, cause of many small neighbourly disputes and larger underlying issues in our community. I would have hoped for council to lead with example in that regard, instead of using continuous up-zoning as an easy fix,” wrote Heyduck in an email.
Coun. Marilyn McEwen raised the issue of the agreement between the property owners and the developers or ‘building scheme’.
“A lot of the letters that came from the citizens of that Reef Point area referred to that building scheme and the fact that it has be upheld. Given the fact that the developer has long since gone bankrupt if one party of that contract is no longer there then is it safe to assume that that building scheme is null and void?” McEwen asked district staff.
Manager of community planning Bruce Greig said he couldn’t comment on the validity of the building scheme.
Acting Chief Administrative Officer Andy Laidlaw weighed in.
“I wouldn’t say on those agreements that they are null and void, but they certainly aren’t something that can be enforced by local government. They are between two private parties,” he said.
Mayor Noel said he is supportive of the applicant.
“We are hiring a couple more bylaw people and for those residents in the area, I hope that if there is a big party, there are phone numbers you can call,” he said.
COUNCIL WATCH: In the April 28 edition of the Westerly, we will report on council’s response to an application from ONNI Group regarding their request to open the signature circle at Wyndansea.