Mayor Bruce Milne has “lots to say” about the SCRD’s approach to affordable housing, which he characterized as “a rather naive view of how development works.”
At the Nov. 1 regular meeting of Sechelt council, politicians discussed bylaw amendments for affordable housing referred to Sechelt by the SCRD. In response, Sechelt council passed a lengthy list of recommendations for the SCRD, the most significant of which was a request for regional government to undertake a regional growth strategy.
Councillor Noel Muller agreed that the strategy is “long overdue.”
“When we want to get money for large scale infrastructure projects related to growth we need to have a regional growth strategy,” said Muller noting that such a plan would support joint grant applications by local governments.
Milne was more blunt. “We need a regional growth strategy because when I read this through, this is an open invitation to developers on the Lower Mainland to come in and build suburban sprawl from Langdale to Middlepoint.”
“I don’t think the community at large, the rural community, even understands what’s being proposed,” he said, contending that the policies proposed will not create affordable housing but instead “will destroy rural character and will undermine the current identities.”
Reading from a section of the proposed bylaws pertaining to mixed multi-family housing and retail development he stated: “That is exactly the wording that we use for Cowrie Street. And this is now for the rural areas.”
Milne said that 20 to 30 years ago, there was a “rough consensus” on growth. “People had agreed that Gibsons and Sechelt would take the dense residential growth in order to protect the values in Roberts Creek, Halfmoon Bay and other rural areas which make the Sunshine Coast so special.”
Two subjects of concern Milne emphasized were water and biosolids. When septic tanks are pumped in rural areas, the resulting sewage is trucked to a treatment plant in Sechelt. “There’s absolutely no consideration here of the fact that we may have to build entirely new infrastructure to deal with the septics identified in this new density,” said Milne.
Milne also proposed a recommendation that “no additional density be considered until water, sufficient for Stage 2 supply for all users, be secured and available at all times during the year.”
Council passed the recommendations unanimously.