In a 2-1 vote, rural directors of the regional district board passed third reading last week on an amendment bylaw concerning minimum lot area requirements for subdivisions.
Requirements are consistent with new development within Settlement Expansion Areas of the Regional Growth Strategy, a document which addresses land use in the Comox Valley over the next 20 years.
The amendment means existing zones on some properties allow for smaller lot areas. However, when the bylaw comes into effect, the minimum changes to four hectares.
"Unless someone has eight hectares, for example, you wouldn't be able to subdivide," said Alana Mullaly, manager of planning services. "Each lot has to be (at least) four hectares in area."
Area B director Jim Gillis and CVRD board chair/Area C director Edwin Grieve voted in favour of the amendment. Area A director Bruce Jolliffe was opposed.
"It is essential we support the Regional Growth Strategy," said Gillis, noting Valley residents who spoke against sprawl during public hearings prior to adoption of the RGS.
Nothing says zoning will always stay the same, Gillis added, noting people have the right to develop property within the next year.
While he supports the RGS, Jolliffe is against retroactively applying the document. He feels downzoning is not a good thing.
"We don't need to do this type of rezoning," Jolliffe said.
Some residents, Grieve said, are unable to subdivide property under the current zoning. He noted a grace period of one year to apply.
The bylaw is in the hands of the Province for approval. It then comes back to the board for final adoption, late January at the earliest, Mullaly said.
According to the Local Government Act, if a bylaw is passed that would normally affect a subdivision — and the subdivision application has already been made — that bylaw does not affect the subdivision for one year.
If residents apply with the Ministry of Transportation before fourth reading, they have 12 months from the date the bylaws are adopted to complete their subdivision.
"A lot of the concerns we were hearing is it now precludes a lot of people from even doing a subdivision," said Mullaly, noting some residents might have been sitting on their property waiting for the right time to subdivide. "This is sort of the push for them to move forward."