Four people will not be getting a refund on fees they paid to facilitate private docks, despite some Strathcona Regional District directors recommending they be reimbursed.
Last year, Tom and Alison Curial and Robert and Susanne Young each paid $2,275 for a rezoning application to allow moorage facilities at Whalebone Cove on Quadra Island.
Then in late January 2014, three other property owners in Whalebone Cove also applied to install private docks adjacent to their properties.
At that point, Strathcona Regional District staff recommended the regional district board adopt a blanket rezoning to allow construction of private docks without the requirement of a rezoning application.
Robert and Susanne Young wrote in a letter to the regional district that while they supported the blanket zoning, they thought it was wrong that only they and the Curials would have to pay.
“It is grossly unfair that the two lots who initiated the rezoning process be left to bear the total costs of the rezoning,” they wrote. “In short, we feel that either no lot owner should have to pay for the rezoning of the area, or each and all lot owners should have to bear their own application costs.”
Tom Curial requested a reimbursement.
“I would like to request a full refund for my application rezoning to the SRD,” Curial wrote.
The board’s Electoral Services Committee, which includes electoral area directors Jim Abram, Brenda Leigh, Noba Anderson and Gerald Whalley, met Aug.13 and recommended the blanket rezoning proceed on the condition that the rezoning application fees paid by the Curials and the Youngs be reimbursed.
The full regional district board adopted the rezoning on October 23.
But Tom Yates, corporate services manager for the Strathcona Regional District, said upon further investigation, it was determined that reimbursing the funds would go against the Local Government Act.
“The provisions limit consideration of fee refunds to situations where the application has been withdrawn in writing prior to the preparation of a staff report (75 per cent refund) or review by a board committee (50 per cent refund),” Yates wrote in a report to the regional district board. “It would appear that, since both applications were fully processed and neither was withdrawn in accordance with the refund criteria, there may not be any substantive grounds for considering the refund requests.”
Yates said the board could, in the future, consider amending its bylaw to consider additional circumstances as reasonable grounds for refunding all or a portion of an application fee, but under the current circumstance warned against it.
“It would not be recommended that the board consider authorizing a refund in contravention of the Local Government Act lest such action attract liability for the corporation or its directors,” Yates wrote.
And at Wednesday’s board meeting, directors – with the exception of Quadra director Abram – voted against the refund.
According to Yates, the application fees paid go towards staff research time, advertising, public hearing venue rental, compensation for the directors, and other miscellaneous costs.