A 42-townhouse development on Guthrie Road in Comox was approved at the Sept. 16 Comox council meeting. File photo

Comox council briefs: Guthrie Road development gets greenlight, new bylaw dispute adjudications system adopted

The Town of Comox has given the green light to a 42-unit townhouse development on Guthrie Road.

The Town of Comox has given the green light to a 42-unit townhouse development on Guthrie Road.

At the Sept. 16 council meeting, council unanimously approved the rezoning, development permit and development variance permit applications for 2310 Guthrie Road which would also have 530 square metres of commercial space.

On Sept. 2, council held a public hearing at the d’Esterre Centre for the rezoning application and no members of the public came forward to speak. However, a maximum of 15 members of the public were allowed to attend the public hearing in-person in order to enable patrons to maintain a distance of two metres from one another.

RELATED: Comox council soon seeking feedback on proposed 42-townhouse Guthrie Road development

The building will be constructed so that the portion facing Guthrie Road would be commercial space and there will be five adaptable housing units included.

The Town will receive a cash payment of $60,842 as a contribution to its Affordable Housing Reserve Fund.

• • •

A new bylaw dispute adjudications system will come into effect within the Town to assist for a streamlined non-judicial way for the municipality to deal with bylaw ticket disputes.

The system was approved at the Sept. 16 meeting, which is designed to reduce the cost and complexity of decision making when resolving local bylaw matters; the avoidance of unnecessary attendance of witnesses and involvement of legal counsel and to reduce the time required to resolve bylaw ticket disputes.

Currently, more than 90 jurisdictions within the province are using the system.

If an allegation is disputed, it must be referred to a screening officer before it can be referred to an adjudicator for a decision on the matter.

Screening officers act as ‘gatekeepers’ to the adjudication system by reviewing all disputed bylaw notices. Within the Town, the designated screening officers are the chief administrative officer; the corporate officer; the director of development services; the fire chief and the bylaw enforcement officer.

Jordan Wall, the CAO for the Town noted at the meeting the new system will help alleviate staff time and money if bylaw complaints are disputed. He added the system is much easier than the former court process, where staff would have to take significant time to prepare affidavits.

Coun. Maureen Swift inquired about the position of the screener and their ability to ensure a fair process.

“Most likely the screener would be supporting the issue on the ticket. The person who is doing the screening is put into an awkward position – it would be two against one.”

Wall said the way the process would work would be more “one-against-one” and the individual could then take their case to the adjudicator.

“It may be that the screening officer looks at the case and says there’s no deal to be made here. The person has the ability to go to the unbiased adjudicator, and this is really an easy, quick, cheap way to see if something can be resolved to start.”

Taking into account the time needed to be a screener, Coun. Ken Grant asked how many disputes the Town faces with within a one-year period and the types of disputes which generally occur.

“Bylaw is generally complaint-driven,” replied Wall. “It’s usually neighbour-against-neighbour or it could even be a parking issue. As far as the numbers, it’s not a huge amount – it doesn’t end up taking up a lot of staff’s time. Even if the number of disputes increases substantially, it can be a time and money saver (compared to the old system).”


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