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General News · 29th August 2018
George Sirk
Dear Islanders,

A massive new 83 page zoning bylaw for Cortes Island (Bylaw 309) is going to Public Hearing, Sept 5, at 1 pm at Manson’s Hall. It has major changes imbedded in it. Changes that have not received proper public consultation. What is more, these changes have not at all been adequately highlighted in the Public Hearing notices.

SOME of the disturbing changes to our existing bylaws are:

- New language in the Commercial and Industrial zones will make dwellings an accessory to the zone, which means if there is no Commercial venture on the property the dwelling contravenes the bylaw
- AC1 and AC2 (marine zones) were arbitrarily changed without any community dialogue: The foreshore zoning AC1 will not permit docks - many of you have docks within this zone; and, all of the marine zones will prohibit public/private moorage
- Extra cottage has been added to the FLS and ALS without consultation
- If you have or are planning to have a small retail business at home you should know about this change that, once again, was not referred to the APC or reviewed by the island: “retail sales where 80% of the goods sold must be produced on the same lot....” So much for economic development and initiatives by islanders....

Regulations that should have been addressed with public consultation and have been included in this new Zoning Bylaw:
- Renting to the travelling public is considered a commercial use and is not permitted in residential zones, excepting only B&B guests.
How many of you does this clause impact?
The Public Hearing notice says short-term vacation rentals will be dealt with in 2019, along with Cannabis production and sales. This would then have to go through another onerous public hearing process. That’s expensive and we pay for it. A strong indication that Bylaw 309 is not ready for the Public Hearing-Final Bylaw stage Sept 5. What’s the hurry? Pre-election ram it through?

More Indications Bylaw 39 is only half-baked:

There should have been Open House Public Info Meetings on this Final Bylaw, where we can ask questions, where the differences between our existing Zoning Bylaw and the proposed new one are outlined, complete with maps that compared the different zoning proposals.

The Advisory Planning Commission (APC), whose role it is to advise the Regional Director, should have had an opportunity to review and comment on the Final Bylaw. Instead, the APC only saw the draft Bylaw.

Some Bylaw changes do not reflect last winter’s survey. To top it off, there are multiple errors in definitions and calculations embedded.

Overall, we Islanders were given only 13 days notice to review the 83 page document online, and try to make sense of these significant changes. Has it been forgotten that many people on Cortes do not even have Internet Access?! And then, just nine days before the Public Hearing, a limited number of printed copies of the bylaw were to be found at the Post Offices. Unacceptable.

People have told me that apparently there is no difference between myself and the current Regional Director. Well, for starters, I would never have brought such an ill-fitting Final Bylaw for our island to a Public Hearing. It is presented in haste, without due public process, is restrictive, and sorely lacks appropriate island consultation. We should never support a Final Bylaw at Public Hearing that is primarily based on a survey, SRD control, and lack of detailed perusal and analyses by the Director in conjunction with the APC, and without Open House public meetings hosted by SRD staff. In fact any one of these is inexcusable, but sling them all together and we have lost control of our island.

I urge you to go to the links below, find your zone, find your interest, and carefully analyze it. Or leaf through the hard-won, hard copy. If you feel that the new zoning bylaw concerns you and/or impacts your way of life, be absolutely sure to attend the Public Hearing on Sept 5 and let the Directors know your feelings. They only give you three minutes to speak, so write down your response ahead of time, and submit your written copy too. Get it on the record.
If we don’t stand up for our island’s independence and rural culture, this Bylaw will be passed. And once a Bylaw is passed it is very hard to rescind.

I’ll be there for sure, but we need many, many voices, including the wonderful, much-maligned Oldtimers, and that’s plural!

your oldtimer,

George Sirk

Existing Zoning Bylaw:
https://strathconaregionaldistrict.civicweb.net/document/2216/Bylaw%20No.%20164%20Amendment%20No.%2027%20to%20Bylaw%20No.%202455%20A.pdf?handle=D329F20FAB5E414A898125A865C23F87
Proposed Zoning Bylaw
https://strathconaregionaldistrict.civicweb.net/document/3542
Thank you for doing this comparison
Comment by sue vican on 31st August 2018
George,
Thank you for clarifying the situation. Personally I am concerned as a non-Canadian Cortes Island homeowner about the delay in addressing legalization of vacation rentals. Why not include it in this massive zoning overhaul? What might be the hidden agenda?

Finally
Comment by Patricia L on 30th August 2018
Thank you for clarifying. What we really needed to know is what is different about the existing by-laws and these rewrites and how will those differences affect island life. I had tried to look at the documents at the post office but too much bafflegab is a turn off!