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Rezoning application denial overturned by Strathcona Regional District

Previous decision made based on ‘factually inaccurate or ideologically flawed’ information - applicant
Jonathan Turkstra (top) makes a presentation to the SRD board. Photo courtesy Youtube

A decision to deny a subdivision application was overturned by the Strathcona Regional District this week, after the applicant made a presentation saying there were “several faulty lines of reasoning” to the decision.

Jonathan Turkstra applied to subdivide a Quadra Island property, which would also require a rezoning. A public hearing was held on the matter on April 27, where two people attended to speak on the matter: Turkstra’s representative and a neighbour who had a background as a marine biologist. According to the delegation request from Turkstra, the neighbour spoke against the project, saying he thought there were issues with it related to some wetlands on the property. After the hearing the project was discussed at the May 11 board meeting.

During that meeting, the environmental impact of the project was brought into question. Director Jim Abram said he wanted to see a report from an independent biologist about the impact, but that would require a second public hearing.

Director Brenda Leigh said at the May 11 meeting that the neighbour, who identified himself as a professional biologist “spoke to how wetlands are disappearing and how they’re valued for our survival… it’s right next door to his property and he doesn’t agree with building anything adjacent to the wetland.

“In my opinion, we already had a biologist’s opinion,” Leigh said.

At that meeting, due to disagreements on getting a second opinion on the matter and the legal impact of receiving information after the public hearing any motions related to the project were defeated, which means it was denied.

Turkstra said in his letter that he “watched the published minutes of the latest SRD on YouTube, and given the final rejection of the bylaw, I wish to ask for a reconsideration by the board.”

Turkstra’s letter says that he felt most of the opposition came from Leigh, and that “she made several assertions that were factually inaccurate or ideologically flawed.”

“The man who made that claim was my neighbor, so there is a clear conflict of interest,” the letter says. “Second, though he may be a marine biologist with years of experience, his opinion is not a comprehensive report on the wetlands. The environmental impacts, if any, would require a full report by a licensed company, not the cursory opinion of a concerned neighbour.”

Following Turkstra’s presentation in which he re-read his letter to the board, directors discussed whether or not they would need to hold a new public hearing on the matter.

“I don’t think that once we’ve denied a bylaw that we could reconsider it just because there was the next door neighbour objecting,” Leigh said this week.

Leigh suggested going back to public hearing to give “the other side the ability to address the issues.”

However, Abram said that there was no new information presented, and that the denial should be reconsidered.

After a vote from electoral area directors only, the bylaw was passed and adopted.

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