General News · 3rd September 2018
Dear Cortes Islanders
I welcome, and indeed request, your constructive critical feedback at Wednesday’s public hearing where we will be reviewing together the Cortes zoning bylaw.
The review of this by law has been on the SRD work plan for many years. Staff began the review two years ago, with our first public meeting at the end of 2016. It is been a two year process with multiple opportunities for public input including three public meetings, one public open house, two community surveys and several Advisory Planning Commission meetings to discuss various components. I have written 9 public articles about the review and during that whole time we have been open to, and indeed requesting, your input.
We have had staff challenges recently in the planning department with staff turnovers including two key players who left before the Cortes zoning bylaw review process could be concluded. There is no doubt that the bylaw before you has deficiencies and indeed needs your input. The very reason it is in front of you now for your comment is because it is indeed your document and needs your reflections. Thank-you to those of you who have been taking a close look and pointing out areas that need our further attention, some outright errors and other points that indeed need to change. You have brought many to our attention and I thank-you for that! I am sorry for any alarm.
I fully anticipate a second public hearing, which is not at all uncommon with complex planning matters. Given the length of this process so far, I did not want to further delay the opportunity for your thorough review. After Wednesday’s public hearing, the regularly scheduled Advisory Planning Commission at the end of September will indeed review in detail the bylaw and consider your comments prior to another revision coming before you, which at this point I fully expect will be after the election. Clearly we need more time.
On the matter of vacation rentals, there has been no change. Commercial use of residential property, which includes short-term rentals, has never been permitted on Cortes. That being said nor has there ever been a complaint or enforcement of this regulation. During this review, we did not hear enough from you about short term rentals to make a confident change and we have therefore committed to doing a specific review on this very important matter next year. At the same time, we will also need to decide how to respond to the legalization of marijuana and choose where to permit its production and sale. Both of these subjects are critically important to our economy as well as to many of you personally. However, we hardly heard a thing from the community about either of these items. These two matters deserve our full attention and therefore will be reviewed next year when we can give them our thorough attention.
So, please come out on Wednesday to Manson’s Hall at 1 pm and offer your constructive input. This is your document!
Welcome to the island????
Comment by Amanda Nielsen on 9th September 2018
To the Strathcona Regional District & our fellow Cortes islanders,
I am writing this letter in response to a proposed bylaw put forward by the Strathcona Regional District.
“Bylaw No. 309 Cortes Island Zoning Bylaw 2018”
Unfortunately, my husband Howard and I will be unable to attend the meeting on September 5th as we will not be on the island on that date. I would request that this letter be read at the Public Hearing and a copy be entered into the records for that meeting.
We bought our property at 298 Sawmill Road last year in order to share with our children & grandchildren the island that we love.
I have a long history on Cortes Island.
My parents have owned a home on Potlatch Road for almost 30 years and continue to enjoy it several months of each year. That cabin has been our yearly summer holiday home since it was purchased. My daughter celebrated her first birthday there and is now bringing her children to the island. We were thrilled to be able to buy this acreage to build our own family home here. We are a blended family of 7 adult children and 10 (with more to come) grandchildren. Our architect has completed plans for a 6 bedroom family home which seems reasonable as it is unlikely we can all be here at the same time. It makes far greater ecological & economic sense for us to build one home with several bedrooms rather than clearing land to build several homes to accommodate our family. And...we like to be together...it will be our family holiday home.
As far as “maintaining rural character” - our property is at the very end of an unpaved dead-end road & we are not building in view of the road nor any of the neighbours. From the ocean, the home will be screened by trees and it would be challenging to spot it from the air. The design is a rustic cannery style with timber frame & will be constructed with wood from our property. There will be no wastage of timber resources. Trees felled will be used for timber and the excess will be cut into firewood logs and the remaining scraps chipped for trail surfaces.
Our dock (the current temporary one & the planned permanent one) will serve our family & friends and is not in view of any neighbouring property. We can come and go without disturbance to anyone. The dock will be of a size to accommodate our watercraft and a floatplane. The proposal has been submitted to all the required governing bodies, along with the environmental studies of the site, and is in the process of being approved.
Since purchasing our property, and in the many previous summers, we have contributed positively to the island economy. In the last two weeks, we have eaten out at The Floathouse twice and the Cove once. We purchase our boat fuel at Gorge Harbour and buy provisions both at the Squirrel Cove Store and at the Mansons store. Providing employment for many local residents on our building project can only serve to increase profits at the local markets, businesses, restaurants & services.
The neighbours that we have met have all expressed how pleased they are that “nice people” have bought the property and that our development footprint is so small.
What many islanders don’t seem to care to do is get to know who we are. Instead of welcoming us with home-baked pies, we have been the target of vandalism and theft. This was very surprising and it makes me both sad and angry.
Unfortunately the island rumour mill seems to be in full motion too. For the record, I am a retired elementary school teacher & school administrator. My husband, who is also retired, was a businessman. We are a community-minded couple and are active in several charity endeavours, both locally and globally.
Our goals are simple:
-to enjoy the beautiful property that we have purchased
-to build an island home that suits the needs of our family
-to build a dock the suits the needs of our family
-to live in peace and harmony with our neighbours on the island.
Amanda & Howard Nielsen
Comment by ruth and roland on 4th September 2018
We really appreciate your polite and informative response to concerns about this Zoning Bylaw Review.
There is a lot to go through and it is good to know there are many in the community who will be looking into it.
Lets do this in a respectful manner,
reply to Noba
Comment by Gabriel Dinim on 4th September 2018
It is not because the community does not seem interested in a particular issue that it has to be regulated in an absurd and inopportune manner.
I was surprised that a large number of these regulations were not flagged as unsuitable for this island.
I was surprised that we are lumped in with every other urban center.
These seem to be provincial administrative directives that are imposed on the Regional Districts.
Ignorance was BLISS!
Comment by Heather Bruce on 3rd September 2018
I don't think anyone had any idea (except those behind the closed doors) where this was going to end up. 73 pages? WOW! And so much restriction! It just doesn't feel like CORTES!
Perhaps, now that there is so much at stake, Island property owners and residents, who will be seriously effected by this by law in lots of different ways, will now step up and take the time to dig into this. As the saying goes, ignorance was bliss.
I have read the entire by law 309, as well as the Official Community Plan which was redrafted in 2012 plus I've investigated the Cortes Community Housing Plan....
I strongly encourage every single person living and/or owning property on Cortes Island to take the time it takes to read and digest BOTH documents and make comments SOON, since Noba is telling us that the ACP will be mulling over comments at the end of the month.
Nice try, Noba, but not very convincing damage control.
Comment by Richard Lawton on 3rd September 2018
C'mon, Noba, you can't wriggle out of this by inventing 'staff problems' and pretending you never expect the bylaw to be adopted.
At the time you instigated it, you had every intention of ramming it through ahead of the election, warts and all.
If you disagree, then show us the correspondence, the motions and the board minutes that put it through first and second reading, and then authorized a public hearing with an expectation of further review and another hearing.
You have demonstrated that far away staff control without community interaction goes wildly astray. We don't need any more broken process.
Rules, rules, everywhere rules
Comment by Jack Wills on 3rd September 2018
"However, we hardly heard a thing from the community about either of these items"
Perhaps the community does not think the topics are very important.
However, the SRD apparently thought it important to prohibit bongs and pipes!!!
And the very poorly worded section does say "keeping or sale". Keeping implies personal possession.
Will wine glasses be prohibited in future?
These are trivial issues in themselves, but demonstrate how little thinking has apparently gone into some of these proposed bylaws.
We pay for this?????