How our local government works
The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) reversed its previous decision and approved the rezoning of a property in Quathiaski Cove, on Quadra Island. Jonathan and Eliah Turkstra wish to subdivide their 5 acre property into two parcels.
In an Electoral Area directors only vote, the Turkstra’s application was turned down on May 11, 2022.
This decision was changed at the May 25 SRD Board meeting, when Regional Directors Jim Abram, Noba Anderson and Gerald Whalley voted first to reconsider the application and then to approve the bylaw that will allow the Turkstra’s to subdivide.
At the first meeting Abram, the Regional Director for Quadra, said, “I do support this application, but before final adoption, I’d like to see a report from the ministry of environment or a professional biologist regarding the possible impacts, if any, to surrounding properties and the environment.”
Noba Anderson, Regional Director for Cortes Island, called the assessment ‘a bit of a red herring:
“The impact will depend on what somebody does with the land. One can build a tiny little shack right up by the road, or one can pave the whole thing.”
Brenda Leigh, from Area D, referred to the subdivision as a ‘Trojan Horse’ that could open the way for other properties to subdivide. There were also concerns about the impact any construction would have on the surrounding wetlands.
She said, “I would prefer to vote this down and then get the opinion. Then go to another public hearing, because any new information we receive between now and final adoption of the bylaws is going to be legally challenging.”
When the time to vote came, only Regional Director Gerald Whalley supported the Turkstra’s application.
As Abram was one of the directors that voted against the proposal, he was allowed to reconsider and reintroduce it at the May 25 Board meeting.
This time Jonathan Turkstra addressed the board. After watching the video of the May 11 meeting several times, he concluded his application was rejected for ‘faulty lines of reasoning. Turkstra said he was not opposed to an environmental assessment, but it seemed pointless when you did not know what would go onto the land, or where.
“The OCP (Official Community Plan) has already slated my property to be rezoned for this particular densification that I applied for. So it’s not outside of the purview of the SRD is planned for my property to have that subdivision take place. I think that just outright shutting it down, especially at this juncture where it’s only at the subdivision process, not at the construction or development process, would be a mistake,” he said.
Abram thanked Mr Turkstra for his ‘very respectful and thoughtful’ presentation, and apologized for the inconvenience. He proposed that the board reconsider the application, and Whalley seconded the motion.
SRD Senior Manager Thomas Yates explained, “It is really at the board’s discretion, whether it wishes to move forward at this point, or to hold another public hearing.”
He said the crucial question, if their decision was challenged, is whether new information was received by the board?
Leigh and Anderson requested that Abram explain what led him to change his mind.
“Would there be more information that could be brought to bear that would allay the concerns that we had two weeks ago when we defeated this?” asked Anderson, “It feels very, very awkward.”
Abram responded, “This information was all received at the last public hearing, the information about the wetlands and all of that. It was already received once I see no reason to go back to public hearing (and) delay Mr. Turkstra once again. I would hope that my fellow directors would support that, and vote to waive the public hearing.”
He challenged Anderson to produce an itemized list of the new information.
None was brought forward.
Chief Administrative Officer David Leitch said that if the board decided to move forward their decision was challengeable, but he thought it unlikely there would be a challenge.
Mayor Andy Adams, of Campbell River, reiterated what he had heard, adding, “I think we should just move forward with this. Otherwise we will be looking at a very lengthy undue delay, which may take away from a construction season. That would be highly unfortunate, and not conducive to what we are trying to do at the SRD. That is to approve and to be consistent with the applications that are consistent with the OCP.”
Campbell River Director Claire Moglove concurred, “I think the likelihood of a challenge is probably quite low. So even though I don’t get a vote on this, I would encourage the electoral area directors to move forward on this and get it done.”
As this is a Quadra Island application, only the four rural directors (Abram, Anderson, Leigh and Whalley) were allowed to vote.
Leigh cast the only opposing vote.
Jonathan Turkstra listened to the entire discussion online.
Thus, when his application for rezoning passed, Abram thanked his fellow Directors and said, “There you go, Mr. Turkstra.”
Top photo credit: aerial view of the Turkstra’s property at the corner of Cape Mudge and Heriot Bay Roads in Quathiaski Cove, Quadra Island – courtesy Google Maps.
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