A six-month rezoning moratorium will not take place in View Royal, after a tie vote on the motion put before council.
Council voted 3-3, and a tie vote means the motion fails. Mayor Sid Tobias, and councillors Ron Mattson and Don Brown voted in favour of the motion with councillors Gery Lemon, Alison MacKenzie and John Rogers against. Coun. Damian Kowalewich was absent from the meeting.
In the council meeting, Tobias says the moratorium would allow the municipality to undergo consultation on the future of View Royal.
“Although we’re focused, and obviously have been, committed to growing, we’re also committed to growing a healthy community and ensuring that we get the value of public input in our decision making process,” Tobias said on June 6.
“The purpose of this moratorium was to allow for a comprehensive evaluation, strategic alignment, public engagement and the review of existing development provincial housing legislation and our Official Community Plan.”
Mattson says View Royal is currently undergoing a review of the OCP, and approving rezoning or development is unlikely to happen during that process.
“The other part of this too is although the individual was concerned about the impact on development, the reality is until we get these things done, we are unlikely as a council to approve any of these new development or rezoning proposals,” Mattson said.
“So it also is probably beneficial to them to not spend their time and energy trying to do proposals to us during this period of time because it’s very difficult for us to approve them if we are still in the process of determining the OCP and where we would like the high-density development and what we’d like it to look like.”
Lemon says the proposal is coming forward at the wrong time, as the provincial government is turning its focus to municipalities that aren’t building housing fast enough.
“To me, this isn’t the right time to bring View Royal so to the attention of the province, when it’s looking to increase housing supply in the region, and has eyes on View Royal specifically for me to support this motion would be a folly,” Lemon said.
“We all want mindful development in our town that respects our distinct character and our values and enhances it just a place to live, but I also don’t want to be tickling an elephant.”
MacKenzie noted passing this motion would paint a target on View Royal in the eyes of the provincial government.
“I think that this motion would be unnecessarily restrictive and inflexible because opportunities are often about good timing, and by having this moratorium, we might miss a potential opportunity during this period, which we otherwise really would have been in favour of,” MacKenzie said.
“I also fear that approval of this motion would place a huge target on our back in terms of the next round of provincial governments housing targets. That is of course if placing it on the agenda hasn’t already done that.”
View Royal is one of the municipalities on the provincial government’s “naughty list,” which is the list of municipalities with the greatest potential growth and means to build housing but are too slow to approve new units.
Prior to the meeting, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon told CHEK News he was surprised to hear View Royal was even considering this motion.
“There are not many councils who have said what the View Royal mayor and council is saying across the province. I talk to mayors and councils all the time. It’s very rare to hear a mayor say, in the middle of a housing crisis, we’re not doing anything to contribute to that,” Kahlon said on June 6 before the council meeting.
-With files from CHEK’s Mary Griffin