Otter Point & Shirley Residents & Ratepayers Association
Held on Tuesday, January 29, 2002
At the Shirley Community Hall at 7:30 p.m.
Ken Pungente (President), Arnie Campbell (Vice President),
Wendy Miller, Lorraine Simrose, Byron Tweedy
Manfred Maurus, Mitch Monero, Wendy Morton
The President welcomed those in attendance and began by explaining that OPSRRA was organized approximately ten years ago when there was an amalgamation vote in 1991. OPSRRA essentially acts as a communication conduit for the community. OPSRRA has organized public meetings in Shirley and Otter Point to give residents an opportunity to raise concerns and questions regarding the proposed amalgamation with the District of Sooke. The President affirmed that OPSRRA is not trying to voice the personal views of the Executive. OPSRRA hopes to communicate the concerns of the community.
2. Ministry of Community. Aboriginal and Women's Services ‑Local Government
To explain this process, an information sheet on governance restructuring options was distributed to the floor.
The President then read information pertaining to the District of Sooke from the Ministry's Work Program and Decision Path For District of Metchosin and/or District of Sooke Potential Municipal Bound Extensions to Include East Sooke and Otter Point Port Renfrew Areas.
The work program is separated in the three phases. The first phase focuses on the District of Sooke's decisions; the second phase focuses on the electoral area communities' decisions; the third phase focuses on the provincial process of implementing the local decisions.
It was noted that the process may be interrupted if the residents of the District of Sooke vote against amalgamation with the outlining areas.
Currently, the District of Sooke Amalgamation Steering Committee is looking at the first phase of the process. The Committee is gathering information to determine the implications of boundary extension from the perspective of the District of Sooke. In phase two, a second committee will be struck to gather information to determine the implications on the electoral area communities joining the District.
Marcus Farmer, Chair of the District of Sooke Amalgamation Steering Committee, confirmed that the dates in the work program are approximately three months behind and that District will be unable to proceed with a study to determine the implications of a boundary extension without provincial funding. Marcus Farmer also confirmed that the objective of the Committee is to determine the effect on the citizens of Sooke. If the study receives funding, Tom Reid of Sussex Consultants Ltd. will be contracted.
As the Committee's objective is to determine the effect on the residents of Sooke, a query was made as to the need for meetings for electoral area residents in phase one.
The President affirmed that from the number of people in attendance at OPSRRA's annual general meeting and tonight's meeting, there is a clear indication that there is a great community interest in understanding governance restructuring options. As it is expected the process will speed up, residents need to be informed.
Bruce Lemire‑Elrose, member of the District of Sooke Amalgamation Steering Committee, spoke to the process of phase one. He explained that the Committee intends on gathering information to communicate to the consultant including boundary options, service requirements, and representation. He explained that nine members sit on the committee; seven of which are electoral area residents. Bruce Lemire‑Elrose asked what are the concerns and desires of residents.
A resident asked what SLP means in the work program. It was determined SLP stands for Supplementary Letters Patent.
Director Tweedy noted that the members of the Committee were appointed by Mayor Macgregor. He also noted that residents of the electoral area may not be given an opportunity to vote as the work program states, "The Minister has the discretion to order a vote, or use another form of indication of resident's opinion as an alternative".
Chuck Minten noted that he would like to see a ward system. He also questioned if the consultant would be meeting with residents.
Bruce Lemire‑Elrose stated that if enough support is generated, the consultant might meet with residents.
Joan Taylor asked if the same lawyer would be representing both sides.
Rosemary Metts asked the Committeeto explain why there is a need to change the existing system..
Marcus Farmer explained that since the incorporation of the District of Sooke, the local land use decision system has been dysfunctional as land use decisions must have the vote of two electoral area Directors. With only one Regional Director, municipal directors are required to vote on land use issues in areas that they do not represent. One example has been the rezoning of the Silver Spray lands. Remaining status quo, amalgamating with the District of Sooke and becoming incorporated are the three options noted in the Ben Marr report.
Joel Nelson noted that representation of the electoral area is dysfunctional and that he supported the first round of discussions regarding incorporation. In regards to the three options in the Ben Marr, it was noted that the CRD is not pursuing the option of incorporating Otter Point, Shirley, Jordan River and Port Renfrew. However, now that Sooke is incorporated, it was noted that the only remaining choice appears to be joining Sooke, Nevertheless, it was affirmed that electoral area residents should be able to vote on incorporation or amalgamation.
In response to Rosemary Metts question, Bruce Lemire‑Elrose advised that the Marr report is available at the District of Sooke office.
Lorraine Simrose noted that the land use issues have never been an issue with the board of variances.
James Howes armed that residents should have a say and asked why a study was being performed when a decision has essentially been made.
The President explained that, although three options are mentioned in the Ben Marr Report, the Province at this time is not willing to entertain all three options.
The Vice President noted that the Local Government Act states that the Minister may direct a vote. If Sooke votes in favour of amalgamation, the Minster may not extend the vote to Otter Point and Shirley residents. The CRD wants to see the matter of amalgamation settled in time for the Municipal election scheduled for November 16. To meet the November 16 deadline, the Minister may sacrifice an electoral area referendum. It is important that residents protect their right to vote.
Chuck Minten noted that the land use problem will not be eliminated until the electoral area ceases to exist. The electoral area includes the vast area from Jordan River to Port Renfrew.
The Vice President noted that band lands will still require Regional Director representation.
Joel Nelson noted that two Regional Director representation is only a band aid solution.
Director Tweedy noted that, if the electoral area does not join, there is still an opportunity to consider incorporation. The Highlands were allowed to incorporate with a population of approximately eight hundred; the electoral area has a population of two to three thousand.
Bruce Lemire‑Elrose noted that the Sooke Electoral Area Regional Director and the Langford Electoral Area Regional Director would routinely support the recommendations moved by either Director. Mayor Macgregor refused to act as the second Regional Director in land use decisions when the Langford Electoral Area amalgamated. At this time, Bruce Lemire‑Elrose asked those in attendance why they would not consider amalgamation or incorporation.
Marcus Farmer noted that the impacts of amalgamation are also essentially being examined in phase one. However, before any study can be pursued, the Province must provide funding.
Maureen Nelson stated that her main fear is that the electoral area will not receive proper representation as the ward system has been phased out.
Bill Hyslop stated that the basic question to ask is what the benefits of amalgamation will be. The benefits of amalgamation have not been addressed.
Chuck Minten stated that the new municipality would receive funding from the Province. However, the current government may not want to take on this expense.
At this time the President thanked those in attendance and advised the floor that there is a second meeting scheduled for February 13 at the Otter Point Fire Hall and that Bruce Lemire‑Elrose and Mayor Macgregor would be in attendance. With the amalgamation review process being approximately three months behind, it can be expected that the process will speed up. It is important that residents express themselves.
Harry Atkinson asked if there will be MLA representation at the February 13 meeting.
The President explained that the MLA, the Ministry and the CRD have been invited. The Ministry and the CRD have declined.
The meeting adjourned at 8:55 p.m.