Victoria council passed the first and second reading of the Missing Middle Housing bylaw clearing it to move on to a public hearing, despite a last-minute attempt by one councillor to postpone the matter.
After a several-hours long discussion for the first and second reading of the Missing Middle Housing bylaw, council voted 5-4 to pass the first and second reading, with councillors Geoff Young, Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Ben Isitt and Sharmarke Dubow opposed.
Previously, council voted to schedule the public hearing on missing middle for Aug. 4, but Isitt made last-minute efforts to have it postponed.
First, he moved to have the public hearing postponed to November so this would be something for the incoming council to decide.
“There’s very strong opinions on various sides of this issue and this council is past its best before date,” Isitt said. “And I think having the election fought over missing middle would have value.”
Coun. Jeremy Loveday, who voted against postponing the public hearing, said this initiative should be decided by the current council.
“This was and is a strategic priority of this council. It’s in our strategic plan that was created at the beginning of this term,” Loveday said. “There has been extensive engagement, and I think it’s ready to go to a public hearing and to hear from the public.”
The motion to postpone the public hearing failed with a 3-6 vote, with only Isitt, Young, and Dubow voting in favour.
Isitt then tried one more time to postpone the meeting, this time until Sept. 22.
“This motion would allow the hearing to take place during the term of this council,” Isitt said. “While accommodating the concerns we’ve heard from the public about their schedules in the summer months and them not being able to participate due to holidays and other obligations on the Thursday after the August long weekend.”
Mayor Lisa Helps said she was opposed to this change since there are already a number of public hearings scheduled in September.
“If we do this, we’re just kind of screwing up the good governance for the last two months of our of our term,” Helps said. “We’re in a different era, we’re in a post COVID era, if people are away on August the fourth, it doesn’t matter, they can send a video in advance and as Councillor Thorton-Joe says that might not be good enough they can call in.”
The second motion to postpone failed with a 4-5 vote, with Isitt, Young, Dubow, and Thornton-Joe voting in favour.
“Can no one try any more dates, because we’ve been through a few already?” Helps said at the close of the meeting. “Okay, I don’t see anyone trying anything further, so the public hearing will be held on August 4 as per previous council direction.”