With a unanimous vote, Comox council passed third reading of the Official Community Plan Wednesday, although not without a hiccup.
Bylaw 1684 (Comox zoning bylaw amendment no. 56) — the minimum parcel size for subdivision of land in the Point Holmes/Cape Lazo area — was defeated with a revised motion setting the minimum parcel size at 0.5 hectares passing, giving way for another public hearing.
The original proposed bylaw suggested a minimum parcel size of 0.4 ha with development cost charges to pay for improvements to the road and general community area.
Prior to the close vote, Coun. Patti Fletcher stated she would not vote in favour of the bylaw, as she preferred to stay with the original 0.8 ha.
Coun. Russ Arnott agreed to not vote in favour, but added he was comfortable with a compromise in size.
“We talked a while ago at 0.8 and then we talked about going to 0.5, and I felt that it was a bit of compromise, and I was comfortable with that and appreciate the fragile environment that we have there and also appreciate the need for some people to do a little subdivision in there to help pay some taxes,” he said.
“I don’t feel comfortable going to 0.4 with some (DCC) charges. I think it may be difficult to administer right now. I’m comfortable with staying at 0.5.”
Concerned with protecting the fragile Garry oak habitat in the area, Coun. Marcia Turner said she could not support the motion as it stands.
“I was amendable when the discussion first took place to going to the 0.5. I am particularly interested in the town pursuing such things as conservation incentives. However, if we do a blanket designation to 0.4, we’ve given up one of the tools that we have in our toolkit to perhaps achieve the conservation of that extremely important garry oak ecosystem, and for that reason alone, I can’t support it,” she noted. “It’s kind of like we’re putting up a sign saying zoning for sale in Point Holmes at $5,000 a lot.”
Coun. Ken Grant agreed with Coun. Tom Grant, noting that 0.4 hectares is equal to one acre.
“We’re not talking about small pieces of land here. An acre is a lot of property. We’re not talking about creating these piddly little lots here. To have seven new one-acre lots is hardly a burden and I find it difficult to see the difference between the 0.5 and 0.4 from that point of view,” he said.
“I feel that with our new OCP … that going to 0.4 would not be a problem, but doesn’t appear to be enough support around here,” added Mayor Paul Ives. “Essentially if we go back to 0.5 … we’ll go back to another public hearing, and probably not hear anything new.”
When brought to a vote, Tom Grant, Ken Grant and Ives voted in favour of the amendment, and as it was defeated, was rescinded to second reading.
Coun. Arnott then proposed the change that the parcel area shall not be fewer than 5,000 square metres, which was supported by Turner, Ives and Hugh MacKinnon.
Because of the change and new motion, a public hearing for the bylaw is scheduled for Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. at the d’Esterre House.