Ucluelet questions OCP while approving guesthouses

“First, we need to be clear on what the rules are on Hyphocus."

Ucluelet's municipal council had some trouble interpreting it's Official Community Plan on Jan. 10.

Ucluelet's municipal council had some trouble interpreting it's Official Community Plan on Jan. 10.

Ucluelet’s municipal council struggled to get down with its OCP last week.

Council approved a rezoning application during their Jan. 10 meeting, despite being unclear about whether it would abide by the district’s Official Community Plan.

Roger Pelosi of Surrey B.C. plans to build a residence and two guest cottages on his 1055 Helen Road property in Ucluelet.

As was reported by the Westerly News, council discussed Pelosi’s application during a Dec. 13 meeting and Coun. Randy Oliwa voiced concerns over the amount of trees that might be removed to make room for the new buildings and associated parking spots.

Pelosi’s application was presented for official approval during Jan. 10’s meeting and Oliwa asked if his concerns had been looked into.

“I mentioned at the last council meeting that the property beside it is treeless and I’d hate to see the same thing happen to this property as well,” he said. “But, I don’t know who actually governs that within our municipality. Who would actually watchdog that?”

He suggested the district’s OCP classifies the Hyphocus Island area Pelosi’s property sits on as environmentally sensitive.

“The way I read it is, if you’re developing on Hyphocus Island, there’s a 30-centimetre tree removal covenant. So, no trees are supposed to be removed over 30 centimetres or larger,” he said. “I could be completely wrong, it’s just what I read and I wanted to highlight the fact that I read it and make sure that staff is aware of it and has done their due diligence to make sure that it’s being met.”

He said he was surprised to see the concerns he’d expressed absent from both Dec. 13’s council meeting minutes and district planner John Towgood’s Jan 10 report.

“I was hoping there would have been a little something in here from planning saying, ‘We listened to you last meeting councillor Oliwa, you’re wrong or your right,’” Oliwa said.

“But it’s not here. So, I’m just trying to do my best diligence…If this person was coming forward and saying, ‘I want to build a hotel or motel here,’ we would be slamming them with everything there is.”

Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques said she was unfamiliar with the OCP stipulation Oliwa was referring to.

“The concern is, has the planner taken into account your interpretation, and I say that just because I haven’t read it councillor Oliwa, of the covenant,” she said.

“First, we need to be clear on what the rules are on Hyphocus…Some of us are not clear on the covenant that you refer to, so we need to get some clarity there.”

Oliwa asked if council could delay approving the rezoning application until clarity could be found.

St. Jacques said she would not be comfortable doing that, but added council could vote on it. Coun. Sally Mole wondered whether council should meet with the developer before approving the application.

“If we pass this final adoption, they could clear cut tomorrow,” she said. “If we approve it and he’s ready to go tomorrow and he doesn’t know that there’s this restriction, if there is such a restriction, then we could be looking at a clearcut.”

St. Jacques said Towgood’s report did not suggest tree removal is an issue on Hyphocus,

“I think we need to have some confidence in our planner that, if indeed this was the requirement, he would have acknowledged that and taken care of it,” she said.

Oliwa agreed and suggested the district’s staff likely looked into any tree removal caveats.

“Perhaps, planning has done just that, looked at it, and he’s saving councillor Oliwa some embarrassment of misinterpretation and just not putting anything on the report, which I would thank him for,” Oliwa said.

“I’m comfortable in the fact of knowing that I mentioned it. It was brought up. There is no follow up report on here, so it must be good to go.”

After council unanimously approved the development, Oliwa made a motion directing staff to clarify any tree removal stipulations on Hyphocus Island within the Official Community Plan.

The Westerly reviewed Ucluelet’s OCP and Hyphocus is, in fact, identified as an area in need of environmental protection.

“Preserving as much of the natural shoreline condition as possible, as well as the forest and its underlying shrub layer is critical in maintaining this character,” the OCP states. “Any development within this DPA must recognise these values and strive to minimize the adverse effects on the natural environment development can often bring.”

The OCP stipulates, “The removal of any native tree species that is 30cm Dbh or greater (Diameter at Breast Height = 1.3m) measured with a proper tree caliper, is prohibited.”