The motion (made by me) was to deny the application. The motion passed narrowly. This means the subdivision is dead for now. However, I have recommended to the applicants that they keep a close eye on the Official Community Plan (OCP) review process coming to Area F in the coming year or two. We might want to take another look at Meadow Valley and decide whether intensive farming is indeed a practical and efficient use of that land.
This is a tricky one because, on one hand, the request is for a subdivision very similar to what has been done in the past in Meadow Valley. On the other hand, the OCP was developed in response to the fragmentation of farmland in the area.
We had some good feedback from both sides during the public hearing in October. However, public hearings under the Local Government Act come after Second Reading but before Third Reading (those are the rules). Thus, to get to a public hearing, the RDOS had to vote in favor of the subdivision for First and Second reading. As a consequence, staff had to support the application when it came to Third Reading.
This is a bit of a glitch in our system. For controversial topics we need to get to public hearing in order to give people a chance to be heard. But to get to public hearing, we have to come out in favor of the proposal for First and Second Reading. This gives everyone the impression that the proposal is moving forward when, in reality, the board is simply seeking the information provided by a public hearing.
Staff hedge their positive recommendation in the report as follows:
In recommending in favour of this proposal, Administration is following the direction set by the
Regional District Board at its meeting of October 2, 2014, wherein it determined to approve first and second reading of the amendment bylaws and to schedule a public hearing.
Administration, nevertheless, maintains its reservations regarding this proposal on the basis that the proposed subdivision is not reflective of current land use policies implemented by the Regional District Board and that the property is not within a designated Rural Growth Area under the RGS Bylaw, while it could be argued that the proposal represents a form of incremental rural subdivision