I have received numerous calls and e mails from islanders who are concerned about a stop work order on the renovations to the Beachside, formerly Island Escapades, property on the Ganges waterfront. It is a valued business and benefits our community. We would all like to see it succeed. However as in any jurisdiction, whether incorporated or not, there are specific by-laws and regulations which must be followed.
There are many layers to this issue. Our rules and procedures stem from the Official Community Plan (OCP) developed after a great deal of time and input from the community, covering all matters relating to land use. It includes requirements for development within our villages, along our shorelines and close to streams among others. Bylaws derived from the OCP, and permit requirements within the OCP, cannot be ignored. Simply put, a landowner can do nothing significant to disturb the land within a Development Permit Area (DPA) without a permit, which will ensure that work is done in a way that is consistent with the community’s vision. The work being done on this land is indeed significant.
This business falls within three DPAs: foreshore; streams and Ganges Village. It is also within a Heritage Conservation Area and much of Ganges Village is an area of archaeological sensitivity. Each of these has its own set of requirements. The OCP contains well laid out guidelines for how to deal with the sort of development the owner has in mind. In response to an enquiry in mid April, Islands Trust staff advised a contractor working on behalf of the owner that attention needed to be paid to these permitting requirements. Their advice was ignored and work went ahead on the property.
Given that the property was purchased several months ago, the owner has had ample time to go through the proper procedures. It is unfortunate that he did not carry out the “due diligence” most buyers would undertake before purchasing the property and committing to significant costs. Had he done so he would have been aware of our community’s requirements. If he wishes to proceed, and I hope he does, he needs to obtain the necessary permits. These typically take about three months to obtain, involving reports from engineers, environmental specialists and, possibly, First Nations. We can explore whether the permitting process could be expedited, but one must ask oneself if this is fair to those in the line up who have followed proper procedures and whose applications will consequently be delayed.
Islands Trust Trustee