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Council responds to public comments on OCP

What is development? According to several submissions from the public, the definition in the Official Community Update was far too encompassing.

What is development?

According to several submissions from the public, the definition in the Official Community Update was far too encompassing. By saying that it included any changes you made to your property, development could potentially cover everything from building a new house to painting a kitchen wall.

For several minutes on Monday night, council debated how, in the words of director of planning Hap Stelling, the definition could be "a little less zealous."

But in the end, council decided to take the definition out all together.

The current OCP does not have a definition. As well, councillors agreed that any definition could best be added to the three proposed land-use bylaws.

The decision pleased Stelling, who said "definitions best reside in a zoning bylaw, not an OCP. Your zoning bylaw is your implementation tool."

(Monday's meeting was committee of the whole. All motions must be affirmed at the July 25 council meeting, when council plans for third reading of the bylaw.)

In a 4-3 vote, council voted to maintain a reference to establishing public boat launches in the Snug Cove/Deep Bay areas. Several neighbours objected to the last-minute inclusion of Deep Bay. One reason is that they believe it's inappropriate to encourage boat traffic at one of the island's primary swim/beach areas, and another is they fear that a parking area created for the launch would be used by ferry commuters seeking free all-day parking.

Stelling agreed that these were "reasonable concerns" and recommended that the words Deep Bay be removed.

Mayor Bob Turner opposed taking out the reference. "Traffic and parking issues are management issues. How you manage a boat launch would be considered when they're proposed. I think it's imprudent for the municipality, given the limited number of boat launch locations, to not have it in the basket of choices. A boat launch is a strategic asset."

Agreeing with him were Councillors Peter Frinton, Doug Hooper and David Wrinch.

Frinton said taking out Deep Bay as an option would be highly prejudicial against the people of Tunstall Bay, where council is investing in its public dock. While the OCP would identify Deep Bay as a potential site, "there's nothing in here that says it would go ahead."

Wrinch said that while Deep Bay is an "awkward area" to have a boat launch, it is a strategic location, especially if development in Snug Cove eliminates the current boat launch there.

Hooper said that if there's a ferry accident or an earthquake, the municipality needs to have another area accessible by boat. The wording does not say there will be a full-scale boat launch there. He wondered if there was a way to reduce anxiety by removing the word public from "public boat launch" or interchanging it with the word municipal.

Councillor Cro Lucas said he was "not aware of any crushing need for another boat launch in Snug Cove." He didn't think there was enough space in Deep Bay/Snug Point for a launch, nor was it practical to put it there.

Councillor Alison Morse said the reference wasn't in the first reading of the OCP update. There is already a boat launch in Snug Cove and Deep Bay could be considered to be included in the "Snug Cove area" reference for a boat launch.

Councillor Nerys Poole wanted it taken out given the "significant number" of residents who were opposed to it. Should a boat launch be proposed, there would be significant public process but that would not be enough to satisfy the expressed concerns.

Council agreed with Stelling's recommendation not to change the maps that indicate general areas of proposed parks. Two people expressed concern that there was no public consultation about the areas and that the designation would affect future land values.

Stelling said the areas were identified as being conceptual and that actual locations would be determined after consultation with neighbouring property owners at the time of subdivision or rezoning. There are enough safeguards for local consultation before any new park was established, he said.

When it came to a complaint about the labelling of maps, council agreed to add the line, suggested by the municipality's lawyer, that "all boundaries and locations are approximate where they do not follow property lines and are subject to minor corrections at the time of specific development applications."

In an interview, Mayor Turner noted that council is not allowed to hear or receive any more comments from the public about the OCP update. The intent of the rule is to prevent private lobbying.