Subdivision - Development
Today, the subdivision and development of property on the Sunshine Coast is often in the news, a subject that generates differing opinions and concerns. Citizens are right to be concerned about water and aquifer issues, sewer and septic issues, riparian issues, wildlife habitat destruction, impact of roadways on wildlife and on groundwater flow, and many other benefits and consequences that developments will generate.
When looking ahead at developments, today and in the future, it is not a bad idea to start with a quick look at the past.
Development on the Sunshine Coast before the
commencement of vehicle carrying ferry service.
As early as 1928, this map and story appeared in the Vancouver Province newspaper and outlined what the future might bring to the Sunshine Coast, and in particular to Irvine's Landing, depicted here as the north terminus for continued ferry service to Powell River.
Seeing this map with Irvines Landing depicted as a major transportation terminus gives us an accurate sense of how important our little harbour was in those early years. But without vehicle carrying ferries, the Sunshine Coast was still a very quiet place which also meant it was popular with those who loved natural and secluded surroundings. Here is a 1947 advertisement for a property in Irvines Landing. Let us know if you can figure out exactly where this property was.
It was not until 1951 that the first vehicle-ferry service commenced. The ferry schedule started each day from Gibsons at 7:00am. Five daily return sailings with the last returning to Gibsons by 9:30pm. Capable of carrying 600 passengers and 48 cars, this ferry was a major change for the coast, one which opened easy access north from Vancouver.
The anticipated vehicle-ferry service, north to Powell River, did not materialize at Irvines Landing (can you imagine ferry line-ups at Irvines Landing?).
This new access to the Sunshine Coast brought increasing traffic and with it the desire to live here, work here and call the Sunshine Coast home. Although this 1963 advertisement for a subdivision in Garden Bay seems tiny it has all the elements we see in today’s subdivision advertisements. This ad is presenting “Sunislope Subdivision”, situated just south of Hotel Lake and offers 8 lots ( although lot number 7 is nowhere in view). Prices start at $800. The all-important essential services are offered: “Water, Light and Phone available”.
Today’s subdivision developments can be much larger, when large blocks of land are subdivided. Locally, the most recent application, (Spring of 2022), called Veranda Ridge Estates, is depicted in this map of Phase 1 of a 65 lot subdivision by New Sky Developments. Pursuant to this project a “Subdivision application has been submitted to the SCRD” (SD000110).
A “Public Information Meeting” was held on April 28 at 7:00pm. This meeting was part of the application process so it was advertised in the Coast Reporter on April 15, and in a letter dated April 11, 2022 addressed to Property Owner/Resident”, however this was only sent to a limited number of property owners or residents. The map below is taken from this invitation and you can read the invitation in its entirety by (clicking here).
Before attending such public information meetings, citizens might wish to inform themselves before hand concerning the "Natural Resource Best Management Practices" available at the following link:
Today’s developments are complex, and may extend over several years and be done in phases. When the public perceives negative impacts or irregularities or has questions, it can seem to be a daunting task to convey their concerns or obtain answers to their questions.
Thankfully, Coast Reporter Keili Bartlett wrote an article on this subject, “How is a Coast subdivision born” published in the April 1, 2022 edition. Keili’s article is based on a March 23 presentation given by SCRD Area B director Lori Pratt, in which she shed light on subdivision for development in rural areas. The following is a short excerpt from Bartlett’s article:
“Pratt was joined by around 75 people for the virtual session. Directors Leonard Lee (Area A), Andreas Tize (Area D) and Donna McMahon (Area E) were also in attendance as she explained the process as it applies in the Sunshine Coast Regional District’s (SCRD) rural areas.
Once the developer’s stormwater and drainage management plan is submitted, it is under the jurisdiction of MOTI to ensure the plan is followed. But that doesn’t always happen, Pratt acknowledged, adding that it’s a problem province-wide, not just on the Coast. The developer is responsible for building roads to standard, but the maintenance of roads is MOTI’s responsibility in rural areas.
The regional district approves building permits for the rural areas, and conducts building inspections. A tree cutting bylaw identifies tree cutting permit areas, mostly near riparian areas, Pratt said.
“To be frank, outside of those areas that aren’t covered by that bylaw, there’s not much we can do about it if somebody wants to cut trees on their property, and they’re not within one of those riparian zones, those bylaw areas. Essentially, it’s their property – and forgive my language on this – but they can do what they want to do, because it’s theirs,” Pratt said. “.
To read this entire Coast Reporter article, please (click here).
To more-fully digest the subdivision process in rural areas on the Sunshine Coast the entire presentation given by director Lori Pratt can be viewed at this YouTube link. While it is lengthy, it is because the entire process of subdivision in rural areas is very complex and, unfortunatly, rather thin on public involvement. Thank you Lori for your time and effort in doing this. If you wish to send an email note of thanks, send it to Lori at: Lori.Pratt@scrd.ca. Leonard Lee also attended and spoke on several issues: Leonard.Lee@scrd.ca
The document below is the Egmont/Pender Harbour Official Community Plan (OCP) dated October 25, 2018. An advisory group was established to assist in guiding the public engagement process and providing insight into the vision, goals, objective and policies which shape this plan. Many of the members of the advisory group will be familiar to you: Peter Robson, Chair, Les Falk, Joe Harrison, Sid Quinn - shíshálh Nation and returning OCP advisory group member, Gordon Littlejohn, Catherine McEachern, Din Ruttelynck, Karen Dyck, Bob Fielding, Kal Helyar, Maureen Juffs, Steve Luchkow, and Patti Soos.
Taking the time to carefully read this document will be rewarding because it identifies goals, objectives and policies pertaining to community planning and development in our area and it also contains maps that show "Land Use”, "Development Permit Areas” and "Transportation” information. This is where we see that Hotel Lake is surrounded by "Rural Residential A", "Community Recreation and Conservation", and "Comprehensive Residential" designated zones.
After reading this OCR you might conclude that the OCR is really a visionary document that sets out our hopes and dreams for the future of our community and that it serves as a guiding light for all of us in Pender Harbour and Egmont. However, we should all be aware that, despite the guidance provided by our OCP, subdivision approvals in rural areas of SCRD are not granted by the SCRD but rather by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, part of a three pronged process that includes the SCRD and Vancouver Coastal Health.
Our OCP is below and we hope you will appreciate the work that went into it. Thank you to all who participated in creating this OCP.
After reading the Egmont/Pender Harbour OCP one then needs to move on to the SCRD Electoral Area A, Zoning Bylaw No. 337. This bylaw was last consolidated in 2019 to establish zones and subdivision districts and regulate the use of land, buildings and structures within the zones. While the OCP offers vision and guidance, this bylaw is the legal tool that, we hope, governs general subdivision and development zoning provisions and regulations to reflect the intent of the OCP. Bylaw 337 is just one of many SCRD bylaws that define our collective desire for an orderly and fair society. Bylaws are laws passed by municipal councils and regional district boards to exercise their statutory authority. Bylaws may be used for a variety of different purposes, including establishing meeting procedures, regulating services, prohibiting an activity, or requiring certain actions. Click the following link to read: BYLAW NO. 337.
Is It Working?? and Bylaw 522
Over recent years there have been increasing concerns over land-use violations. Not only are cases of development without permit occurring but, also, cases of significant work and alteration on steep slopes, riparian areas, and wetlands, some or all of which, may affect natural ecosystems.
In response to such instances of disregard for our laws, on May 12, 2022, the SCRD updated applicable bylaws.
The most significant change was to bylaw 522 (click here) which now clearly states that, within a development permit area, a development permit is required for any land alteration or construction. Bylaws 558 and 638 were also updated with increased fines for failure to obtain necessary permits or failure to comply with land use permit conditions.
The aforementioned changes to bylaw 522 were accompanied with an SCRD response to the increasing number of land owners who, without registering as a business, provide RV occupancy space year-round, in effect permitting recreational vehicles to be used as permanent housing. As Area A director, Leonard Lee pointed out in his Lee Side article in the June 2022 edition of the Harbour Spiel, "..the the SCRD lacks authority to permit RVs as dwelling units because it contravenes building code, an area of exclusive provincial jurisdiction." and "The only option for a land owner within the SCRD to legally provide space for year-round RV occupancy is with a mobile-home park or RV/campground business." and "If space is rented in violation of zoning and other bylaws, the SCRD will act on complaints."
The SCRD may act on any complaints of such violations of zoning and other bylaws.
SCRD BYLAW COMPLIANCE
The Bylaw Compliance Officer ensures that the Bylaws that currently govern the Sunshine Coast Regional District are adhered to. If you have a complaint regarding a violation of a bylaw, please fill out the Complaint Form. Once received, the complaint will be addressed and Bylaw Compliance will contact you regarding any developments. NOTE: Anonymity will be maintained at all times between the complainant and the alleged violators, except where necessary in a court of law.