White Rock council is to consider obtaining legal opinion on a revised motion from Coun. David Chesney to place a moratorium on new high-rise development calling for zoning changes or OCP amendments until after this October’s civic election. File photo

Highrise moratorium back on White Rock council agenda

Coun. David Chesney said he was only seeking legal opinion of revised motion

Last week’s motion from White Rock Coun. David Chesney – calling for a moratorium on highrise and multiple residence applications in the city until after October’s civic election – is back before council, in modified form, for the June 11 meeting.

It’s now on the agenda as a motion for council to direct staff to get a legal opinion on the revised version.

When last discussed, at council’s May 28 meeting, the original motion called for 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.”

At that meeting Chesney was told by city administrator Dan Bottrill – at the prompting of Mayor Wayne Baldwin – that such a motion would be “ultra vires, or outside the law.

Bottrill said that any property owner compliant with the zoning bylaw and the OCP, and who wishes to bring forward a development application, or submit a building permit would be entitled to do so.

“In fact, if we didn’t process building permits it would lead to some litigation, liability and compensation,” he said.

Chesney withdrew the motion, but told Peace Arch News Friday that he remains unconvinced that it is illegal for council to impose a moratorium of any kind on new development.

“I revised the wording so that it specifies development that requires zoning changes or OCP amendments – since those were the two points that were belaboured to me by Mr. Bottrill and the mayor.”

Chesney said he was surprised to see the revision appear as a notice of motion, since he submitted it to staff this week to see if he could get a legal opinion on it from the city solicitor.

“The fact that our CAO was unwilling to forward it to the city solicitor strikes me as a little strange,” he said.

Bottrill could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Chesney said he also finds it strange that, with five or six days notice of the original motion, and all during the process of putting together the council agenda, that “Bottrill and Baldwin did not say ‘this is illegal – we need to get hold of Coun. Chesney to let him know.’

“It’s been said, by others, that it was somewhat of a set-up,” he said.

While Chesney said he is convinced the new motion will be rejected in a 5-2 vote on Monday evening, he added that he still feels bound to do what he can to slow the current pace of development in the city, which has become a talking point for some city residents.

“I have to – I have to look at myself in the mirror,” he said.

“There are are people who want to continue to push forward development, and I believe there could be a couple of very contentious projects coming up that are going to make this city’s head spin,” he said. “My concern is that, as the house is burning down to the ground, council could well push a couple more through.”

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