An attempt by White Rock Coun. David Chesney to establish a formal moratorium on highrise development until after the fall civic election was shot down at Monday’s council meeting.
Mayor Wayne Baldwin asked chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill whether such a move by council would be “ultra vires.”
“The motion that is being proposed…would be ultra vires,” Bottrill confirmed. “In layman’s terms, it’s illegal, it’s outside of the law. Any property owner that is compliant with the zoning bylaw, the OCP, that wishes to bring a development application is certainly entitled to do so. Any property owner that wants to come forward to the city and submit a building permit would be able to do so. In fact, if we didn’t process building permits it would lead to some litigation, liability and compensation.”
“In other words, Coun. Chesney’s motion would have council conduct illegal action,” Baldwin said, asking, “do you still want to make your motion?”
Chesney said he would withdraw it.
“I’m surprised that this was not alerted to me when I filed the motion,” he said. “And staff was well aware that this was here. To sit and wait until we finally arrive at this point in time, I have a hard time understanding that. But I will withdraw the motion – and let the building begin.”
Chesney’s motion had called on council to “endorse a moratorium on all development and building permits pertaining to all and any multiple-residence applications until after the upcoming civic election… Oct. 20.”
Introducing the motion, he said he could not “sit by idly and watch further runaway development.”
“This council over the past 3½ years has approved no less than 14 highrises in our small community. Of those 14 towers, three of them fit the OCP,” he said. “All the rest required amendments to the OCP… I’m urging council to step back, take a breath, let the remainder of this term go through.
“The biggest project going on was approved 12 years ago,” Baldwin said, after Chesney withdrew the motion. “The second biggest, if you discount PARC, was approved about 10 years ago. I don’t think a couple of building permits is going to make that much difference in the overall scheme of things.”
Following the meeting, former Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Ken Jones – a former member of White Rock council – told Peace Arch News he doubted a moratorium, or some city measure to slow the approval process, is actually illegal.
“We had a moratorium on such buildings when I was on council,” he recalled.