Despite a positive endorsement from their planning department, Ucluelet’s municipal council turned down a request that would have allowed the owners of 1331 Eber Street to moor two recreational fishing boats outside their home.
Barb and Doug Farrington had hoped to operate a commercial charter business and planned to park their two fishing vessels on a dock in front of their residence while using Ucluelet’s Whiskey Dock as a pick up and drop off point for visiting sport fishers. In order to do this, the Farringtons needed to rezone their foreshore to allow for commercial use.
“The Ucluelet harbour has potential to maintain and promote what makes Ucluelet a great place—a place that services the fishing and sport fishing industries, the tourist industry and supports daily recreational enjoyment by many within the community,” read a report submitted by the district’s Planner 1 John Towgood.
“The use of the harbour as an asset for economic prosperity also needs to be directly weighed against the livability of the surrounding residential neighbourhood. Planning staff consider this proposal both appropriate for the area and modest in impact.”
Fears of the rezoning’s potential implications led council to decline the application last week.
Council’s refusal came after a July 12 public hearing where several area residents voiced concern about the increased noise and traffic an added activity would bring to their neighbourhood, which already has a fish plant and heavy fish truck traffic.
“I just don’t understand where the parking’s going to be provided,” said Dario Corlazzoli.
“That area is already very congested with fish trucks and fishermen coming and going at all hours of the night…I’m very concerned about the extra noise and parking that will be created by the extra activity.”
Joe Corlazzoli added fish trucks are often left running in the area late at night creating significant noise.
“There’s so many issues to deal with right now,” he said adding even if the fish truck situation was resolved, parking would still be an issue.
Doug Farrington spoke on his own behalf at the hearing and assured parking would not be a problem because fishers would not park at his residence.
“I understand and appreciate what these gentlemen are saying. It is very congested down there…but I can guarantee there would be nobody parking down there to go down to the dock,” he said.
“We wouldn’t have parking there whatsoever for any of our guests. We would pick all our guests up down at the government dock.”
Joe Corlazzoli suggested sport fishers could bring unwelcome noise.
“Ive been down to the other marina and I’ve seen what a few fishermen can do at night time and they don’t stop unless you have a policeman there slowing them down,” he said.
“Recreational fishing is different than commercial fishing, those guys are working, these guys [are on] their holiday.”
Barb Farrington reiterated there would be no fishing activity around the residence.
“When we are proposing to put this dock in, it’s to dock our sport boats there; thats it,” she said. “It’s strictly going to be a spot where we can put our sport boats overnight.”
Immediately after the public hearing, council held their regular meeting where they declined to move forward with the application.
Coun. Randy Oliwa agreed with the parking and noise concerns raised at the hearing.
Coun. Sally Mole said she needed more information about the potential parking impacts and said other activities could pop up if the area was rezoned.
“I do worry about the fact that, once it’s zoned ‘x,’ it could go from what sounds like a fairly simple operation to something that we really hadn’t envisioned,” she said.
Mayor Dianne St. Jacques asked what other uses would be allowed under the new commercial zoning.
“It’s not the current applicants’ use, but if they turn around and sell it in a month or two what else might pop up on that property,” she asked.
Towgood responded the zoning could potentially allow for a variety of activities including a boat launch, fish selling, summer kiosks and a seasonal marina.
He added the applicants had obtained a lease from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the foreshore but that lease would be invalid if council denied the zoning.
“The lease is hinged on the zoning, so if this zoning falls through then their lease falls through and it has taken them a couple of years to get to this point,” he said.
St. Jacques expressed concern over the possible seasonal marina use.
“That is quite a bit of activity that is possible on that lot,” she said.
Towgood said a marina was not in the applicants’ plans and would not be permitted without council’s approval.
“As they apply for business licenses, things like parking will have to be established,” he said. “A lot of these issues are more bylaw and bylaw control.”
Oliwa agreed with St. Jacques and said allowing a marina without parking could be trouble.
“With the change of zoning on the water, you would actually have the potential of creating that marina without any parking plan in place,” he said.
District CAO Andrew Yeates reiterated that council would need to approve new business licenses before anything beyond what the applicants were asking for was allowed.
“I think some of the confusion may be on the difference between a rezoning and what the use may be down the road,” he said.
“There’s a difference between putting a dock in and mooring a couple of boats you plan to use elsewhere and creating a marina that houses 20 boats. That’s a different thing and it’s a different business.”
He added any uses outside the applicants’ current scope, like a marina, would require council’s approval.
“They’d have every right to come and ask for it but then they would have to show how that’s going to happen in a satisfactory way to council or you won’t give them a business license,” he said.
Oliwa questioned how the district would be able to stop a seasonal marina through its “complaint driven” bylaw process.
“We have no bylaw enforcement so I don’t know how we would enforce that if it did go that way,” he said.
“Not with this owner but, if something else changed down the road, how would we solve the problem that we’re helping to create?”
St. Jacques didn’t like the idea of tying a commercially zoned water lease to a residential property and asked why the applicants needed the new zoning to tie their own boats to their own dock.
“He’s just tying up two boats at his own wharf,” she said.
“People aren’t going to be parking there, they’re not picking up there. It’s just two boats tied up and he goes over to the government wharf picks people up and out he goes and brings them back to the government wharf.”
Towgood responded the applicants’ commercial charter element required the new zoning.
Council’s vote to deny the application was unanimous.