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Cumberland anti-racism policy takes next step

BRIEFS: Village needs members for board of variance
A monument honours victims at a Black Lives Matter event in the Comox Valley in June 2020. Cumberland is now looking at bringing in an anti-racism policy. Record file photo

Cumberland council took its next step toward its anti-racial discrimination and anti-racism policy at its meeting in August.

In July, the policy was sent to the accessibility and inclusion committee for comment. The committee’s recommendation was for the village to adopt the policy as presented, with reference to the B.C. Human Rights Code. It did suggest the scope of what is considered discrimination for general equity and inclusion could be broadened to include all forms of discrimination. The lawyers who drafted the policy are receptive to the changes.

Council has now referred the policy to staff for review to look at how it would work with other village policies.

Variance board members needed

Council is looking for new members to sit on the board of variance.

The three-member board looks at applications of minor zoning and other bylaw variances where an applicant asserts a bylaw would present a hardship in terms of compliance.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland seeks input on anti-racism policy

For applications, the Board considers factors like inappropriate development of the site, effect on the natural environment, use and enjoyment of adjacent land, among other things.

Meetings are typically held infrequently and scheduled with board members following receipt of an application.

People can apply or get more information at the village office at 2673 Dunsmuir Ave.

Streamlining ADU process

The process to streamline applications for accessory dwelling units (ADU) is moving forward.

In August, council voted to give first and second readings to bylaws to amend official community plan (OCP) and zoning bylaws to add the changes.

“The intent of streamlining is to improve the process for the applicant and to improve a level of service,” manager of development services Courtney Simpson said.

Part of the goal is to free up staff time. In July, council had sent the bylaws to the Advisory Planning Commission, the homelessness and affordable housing committee, and the accessibility and inclusion committee for comment, and the changes were taken into account. For example, one change was to limit the use of transparent surfaces for ADU buildings, especially on sloping properties.

“This is really to address the overlooking neighbours’ property situation,” she said. “This is something that has been done in other jurisdictions.”

There were other issues such outdoor pathway lighting, which would need to meet dark sky guidelines, such as not having light directed at adjacent properties.

“I’m happy to see the inclusion of a lot of concerns,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said.

Coun. Vickey Brown said she agrees with the intent but was concerned about the possibility of streamlining applications for commercial vacation rentals rather than regular housing in the community.

As well as giving the bylaw amendments the first two readings, council agreed to refer the streamlining draft bylaws and application guide to the same committees as well as direct staff to schedule a public hearing.

DCCs getting update

The village is updating its bylaw for development cost charges (DCC).

At the Aug. 8 meeting, council passed three readings for the DCC bylaw and directed staff to refer a background report from consultants at urban systems.

DCCs are charges tied to development proposals aimed at covering the associated infrastructure costs. The village last reviewed the program in 2013.

“It’s a fairly straightforward bylaw,” manager of operation Rob Crisfield told council.

The update has been prompted by a number of factors, such as the completion of some large capital projects, changing growth projections, updated community plans, changing provincial legislation and changing construction costs for capital projects.

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