Sechelt For the Record

The District of Sechelt receives questions by email, phone and social media every day. In an effort to provide all citizens with the same information, many of those questions and the answers will be posted here once a week. Only questions related to District operations can be answered here. Looking for a specific question? Enter a key word in the search box.  

April 15 to 21, 2018

Q:How much does it cost the DoS to process incomplete and/or inadequate development applications? How much time does this take?

April 20, 2018 - ​Incomplete applications can result in delays for both the applicant and staff.  As such, the District is refining the application process to ensure that submissions are complete. We always advise applicants to arrange a pre-application meeting with staff to confirm the process and information requirements.

Delays can also occur mid-way through a development process for a number of reasons:  if market conditions change, an applicant may choose to modify or abandon their development proposal.  In some cases, the site conditions turn out to be more complex and the costs escalate and financial viability is reduced. Sometimes there is poor communication between the applicant, consultants, architects, staff and investors which can result in delays.

Q:Is the DoS legally obliged to consider every development application that is submitted?

April 20, 2018 - We are required to process a complete application – but it is up to Council to determine whether it is acceptable and warrants approval.

Q:Do DCCs cover 100% of the initial costs, or more or less? Are DCCs adequate to cover future capital expenditures needed to expand water and sewer capacity for example? or future maintenance and repairs?

April 20, 2018 - The amounts charged to a development are contained in the DCC bylaw.

In some cases, off-site improvements will not be covered by DCC because the improvement was not included as part of the list of projects eligible for Development Cost Charges.

In those cases, the applicant is required to pay for the offsite upgrades associated with the rezoning – and that requirement is formalized through a servicing agreement.

For large scale servicing infrastructure – such as sewage treatment plants, water reservoirs and treatment facilities, arterial roads and highways – they are planned in advanced through master plans which look at growth projections, OCP designations and zoning to project future needs.  The infrastructure improvements/expansions are then determined on that basis, combined with best practices review and consideration of industry standards. The 10-year capital plans and DCC amounts are based largely on that information.

Q:How much building and development is going on in the District of Sechelt?

The District Planning and Development Services department provides a monthly summary current development applications in the Planning and Community Development Committee Meetings each month.  This report is included on the last page of the agenda each month. Please see the Agendas and Minutes page for the latest agendas. The Planning department is also working on a new monthly update that will provide statistics on numbers of permits issued by the District each month.  Here are some reports that were prepared previously:

March 28, 2018 Planning and Community Development Committee Agenda

2017 Building Inspectors Report (summary of Building Permits)

2006 – 2017 Summary of Building Activity

2000 – 2016 Development Summary

Q:Why were bollards installed on Baillie Rd?

April 19, 2018 The use of the bollards was actually made a condition of development approval of the Tyler Rd development by way of resolution at a Regular Council meeting. Please see Council resolution # 08-07B-33 on page 12 of the Regular Council Meeting Minutes from July 16, 2008.   The report from Planning requires the placement of the bollards in lieu of implementing the recommended intersection improvements that were contained in the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA).  There could have been a different decision on traffic calming measures or intersection improvements, but bollards were considered the preferred option at the time.  It would take a decision of Council to reverse this and may entail a reconsideration of the TIA that was done at the time of development approval.

Q:How does the development process work? Why does it take so long?

April 20, 2018 - The development process is complex because every application is different. Some will require zoning changes, variances, OCP amendments or other local government changes. Some will require traffic studies, geotechnical studies or other such reports. Once an application is submitted, staff will review it and advise the applicant what else will be required. They try to be very thorough in the examination and provide the applicant with an exhaustive list but sometimes the answer to one question prompts another one and there is a bit of back and forth. Staff try to move applications through the process as quickly as possible.

Changing zoning means granting development rights to an applicant.  The basis of the planning process is to ensure that proposed changes are based on fairness (why does one owner get to change his land, but not the neighbour?), public interest (is this change in line with community needs and values?) and need (are we responding to population needs – or are we promoting sprawl and over-development). As such, municipalities rely on their Official Community Plans, zoning bylaws and Development Permit processes to evaluate the merits of each application.  Any application that is changing land use rights must be considered in a fair and transparent manner – hence the need for a public meeting, public hearings, evaluation on the part of the staff and full deliberation on the part of elected officials.

Q:The BC LGA states that municipal elections must be held every 4 years. Is it possible to change this in Sechelt to every 3 years if residents of Sechelt request this?

April 20, 2018 - No. Unfortunately, we have to obey the provincial regulations. 

Q:What is the difference between a municipality and a regional district? What is Sechelt?

April 20, 2018 - In very simple terms a municipality is your city or town. The regional district is everything else in a region. Sechelt is a municipality with defined borders and everything outside those borders is the Sunshine Coast Regional District.

They have some of the same services but they also have different ones. For example, a regional district is responsible for solid waste. But that really means they are responsible for the landfill. Sechelt can opt to offer curbside pick up of solid waste if we want to. And we do. Both will have bylaws around animal control, property development, noise etc.  Here is a very high level table that shows you who does what in our region. 

District of Sechelt

Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD)

Province

  • Sechelt roads
  • Sechelt sewers
  • Parks
  • Beach trails
  • Trails
  • Garbage & recycling pickup
  • Business licensing
  • Sechelt Library (shared with SCRD)
  • RCMP
  • Dog licenses
  • Development permits

 

  • Water
  • Recreation
  • Fire protection
  • Transit
  • Sunshine Coast emergency planning
  • Parks and trails in the SCRD
  • Landfill
  • Garbage & recycling in SCRD
  • Libraries (shared with municipalities)

 

  • Provincial parks
  • Highways and ferries
  • Healthcare and Hospitals
  • Homelessness
  • Groundwater
  • BC Building Code
  • Education
  • Driver’s licenses
  • Gaming
  • Landlord tenant relations
  • Property Assessments
  • Liquor laws

 

 

Q:What is the Local Government Act for BC?

April 20, 2018 - The purpose of the  Local Government Act is: 

(a)to provide a legal framework and foundation for the establishment and continuation of local governments to represent the interests and respond to the needs of their communities,

(b)to provide local governments with the powers, duties and functions necessary for fulfilling their purposes, and

(c)to provide local governments with the flexibility to respond to the different needs and changing circumstances of their communities.

You can find the Act here

Q:What is an Official Community Plan? Do we have to have it? Does Council have to follow it?

April 20, 2018 - Every BC community must have an Official Community Plan (OCP). It is a legal document and technically it is a bylaw. The OCP bylaw is often accompanied by a more descriptive document that contains more of the value statements from the community. 

An OCP is created by the community and for the community through extensive consultation. It is often updated every 5-8 years by consulting with the community again to see if their priorities have changed. The OCP provides an overall framework to guide future development and well-being of the District.  The OCP incorporates the guiding principles, and detailed policies and objectives regarding future land use, environmental protection, housing, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, parks and open spaces, heritage and community services. 

As with any bylaw, Council has the authority to vary it or waive it at any time but there must be public notice and an opportunity for the public to express their views through a public hearing. 

Sechelt's OCP can be found here.

Q:I am interested to know why the hillside above Gale Ave North/ Fairway Ave being surveyed?

The surveying is for a private development at Lot55 Gale Ave north. 

Q:I saw someone taking buckets of rocks from the beach. Are they allowed to do that?

 

This activity does not fall within the District's bylaws so we asked Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development. Here is their answer:

Under the Land Act, s. 60(b) the use of Crown land without lawful authority is an offence.

Removal of a ‘natural resource’ from Crown land without authority is also not permitted. As the removal of gravel / rocks is an activity that the Province regulates, there is the possibility of permitting the activity.

So, yes it’s a contravention, the severity and magnitude will inform the response. 

To report a violation, please dial 1-877-952-7277 or

Online at www.for.gov.bc.ca/hen/nrv/report.htm 

Q:Is the treated effluent discharged at Pebbles Beach? How much chemical is in there?

April 17, 2018 - Treated effluent is discharged approximately 450 meters from the shore. Many chemicals are used in treating effluent. The purpose of the chemicals it to make the effluent safe to discharge to not negatively impact marine or human life. Ours is tested in-house daily and by an accredited lab every month to ensure it conforms to provincial and federal regulations. 

Q:How much chemical is stored at the Water Resource Centre?

April 17, 2018 - The WRC stores enough chemical to use during one week of operations. 

Q:Has the route for seaplanes changed? They seem to fly over downtown Sechelt a lot more than before when they would go around the downtown. They are too noisy and the air currents above the downtown area can be extreme – it seems like a safety risk for the pilots and passengers.

April 13, 2018 - The District of Sechelt has been in contact with Mark Golden and Jeffery Ellis 604-666-4674 – 604-916-3570 Civil Aviation Inspectors, Aerodromes and Air Navigation, Transport Canada. We were informed that the planes and any related activity including the noise is not within the jurisdiction of the District of Sechelt to address or enforce. Please feel free to contact them and inform them of the impact this is having on you and within our community.

Q:How are property taxes calculated? What does the 5.78% mean to me?

April 11, 2018 - Property taxes are calculated based on property values determined by BC Assessment.  The rate is relative to all residential properties in Sechelt so a property that increased the average amount will not see a big tax increase.  BC Assessment’s video describes how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ1mzeCm5jw

April 8 to 14, 2018

Q:What will businesses get for their increased taxes this year?

Business will continue to receive the high level of services we have all come to enjoy. With growth comes the need for more maintenance of our roads, sidewalks, sewers, parks and trails because more people are using them. With growth also come more infrastructure (roads, sewer lines, sidewalks etc) to maintain. 3% of the tax increase is to fund future infrastructure needs to get the District caught up to the level of funds in reserves that will be needed. The rest of the tax increase covers the increased costs the District experiences. Costs of fuel, wages, utilities etc impact the District operating budget. 

Q:What preparations or engagement with citizens does Council have planned for the changes to marijuana legislation?

April 11, 2018 - At this time there are no plans for any community engagement or a task force.

Q:How come sometimes a councillor will recuse themselves from a vote and sometimes they don't?

Whether there is a perceived conflict is up to each individual councillor to decide. If a mayor or councillor believes a council member is in conflict, they can also raise the issue but only a councillor can decide whether or not to recuse themselves. There are two kinds of conflict: a fiduciary conflict and perceived. A fiduciary conflict is when a person will definitely receive financial benefit from a decision. For example, if Council votes to buy property that one of the Councillors is selling. A perceived conflict is when someone might think there is a conflict but the connection is a little more vague. For example, if a councillor's child has a friend who works for a company that wants to rezone a property. It is up to the councillor to determine if he/she is likely to see a benefit from that and recuse him/herself accordingly. 

Q:Any information on the possible sewer hookup in Selma Park. Is it true? Cost to home owner? Do we have to hook up? Completion date?

April 10, 2018 - The plan for this year is to conduct a study and complete a Sewer Function Plan for the Selma Park/Davis Bay/Wilson Creek area to help facilitate grant applications for the expansion of the sanitary sewer in these areas. The full cost of the project needs to be determined so we can apply for grants to help pay for it. At the same time, this year, staff are reviewing how we tax for sewer use and infrastructure to ensure it provides for the current and future services needs but it fair to all homeowners. So as to the cost per homeowner, we won't know until we know the cost of the project and we have reviewed the bylaw that allows us to tax for the service. 

 

April 1 to 7, 2018

Q:Why were the 9 letters that were submitted to Council regarding the West Porpoise Bay Development Variance Permit application from RTC not included on any agendas received by Council? How do we know that Council saw them before making their decision?

All nine letters and the petition were received by Council prior to the Council meeting on March 21.  The process for development variance permit (DVP) applications is to inform neighbouring residents of the meeting date and time where a decision will be made.  For the West Porpoise Bay Estates application this was March 21, 2018 for a decision on the DVP for Buildings 5 and 6. This provides residents with an opportunity to send comments to Council if they choose.  Council did not endorse the variance on March 21st.

This is not a formal public consultation process as would be required if a rezoning or Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment was needed. For rezoning and OCP amendments all comments received from the public are required to be made available for public review up to the Public Hearing.  After a Public Hearing no further comments can be received and there is opportunity for Council and staff to review the comments received prior to their further consideration of the application. There is also the opportunity to get all of the comments onto the meeting agenda when the next consideration of the application will occur.

This is not the case for a DVP, which is a very different process.  Our process for any comments received from the public for a DVP application, are to forward them, as they come in, to the Mayor and Council, as well as planning staff, for their knowledge and consideration.  In accordance with the Local Government Act, there is no specific date of closure to receive comments by and no requirement to have comments made available to the public. In this case the Municipal Planner included a summary of public input in her verbal report to Council regarding the variance application. The correct process was followed in this case and Council’s decision on March 21 supported the concerns expressed by yourself and other neighbours.

Q:What is the District doing to improve our water supply?

The Regional District is responsible for the provision of drinking water to Sechelt. The District of Sechelt has 2 seats on that board and have been advocating for a long-term solution to water supply and not short-term emergency fixes. 

The RD has been able to save 25 – 40% more water since the metering program began.

The RD Board recommended on Feb 8 the following items be included in the 2018 budget:

  • Improvements to the regional water storage capacity  ($200,000)
  • Groundwater investigation, including drilling program ($325,000)
  • Water meters rolled out to Sechelt

 

Q:Do property owners on the water own the beach too? How do I get to all the beaches?

April 18, 2018 - The Crown owns areas below the high water mark. This is essentially the area below the line of vegetation – or natural boundary.

Some users have water leases which give them access to water lots. This is limited to marine-based industry and commercial uses and marinas.

The District has the authority to zone the surface of the water – 300m from the shoreline.

 You can find a map to our beaches on the last page of this Beach Access brochure 

Q:How much are mayor and council paid?

The annual remuneration for the Mayor is $37,109.  The Councillors each receive $18,560 and the Councillor appointed as Acting Mayor receives an additional $1,413.  In addition, members of Council can elect to receive medical and dental benefits or cash in lieu of benefits.  The cash in lieu amount depends on if the person was eligible for benefits as an individual, couple or family. It ranges from $179.16 for a single, $375.50 for a couple or $468.68 for a family per month. 

Q:How is our library funded?

Each Library is independent and are funded by different groups of tax payers. For example, the Sechelt Public Library has its own board, and the Gibsons Public Library has a different board. Roberts Creek and Pender Harbour Libraries are separate as well.  Funding comes from the SCRD, SIGD, District of Sechelt and Town of Gibsons, depending on where the primary user-base is.  The District of Sechelt has a 5 year agreement with the Sechelt Public Library that is up for renewal at the end of 2018. Each library also has different costs and expenses.  For example, some libraries  may operate a separate stand-alone building, while others such as the Sechelt Library are located in a municipally owned building, where rent is provided as an in-kind donation and was not included in the per capita calculations provided by the Library. The District of Sechelt is not able to comment on funding models for libraries outside of our jurisdiction.

Q:How much of the proposed 5.78% tax increase in 2018 goes towards the capital reserves?

Almost half of the proposed tax increase is for capital. 3 % is for infrastructure renewal as per the financial sustainability plan and 2.78% being for operational needs, be endorsed and included in the 2018-2022 Financial Plan to be recommended to Council.

 

Q:What was the property tax increase in 2017?

6.95%

Q:Is there currently any money in the Capital Reserve?

Feb 20, 2018 No.

April 19, 2018 - When discussing municipal finances we must be mindful of absolute vs. relative statements, the context in which statements are made and the timing of the statements. In response to a question at the budget meeting it was stated that the District has no money in its reserves. Some may take this to mean that the District’s bank accounts are empty. This is not the case, but our reserve levels are very low and much lower than we would like them to be. Secondly, the question and answer concerning reserves at the budget meeting was in regard to having funds to deal with infrastructure issues and unexpected events. Many of the reserves the District has are for specific purposes, such as the Community Forest Legacy Reserve, and therefore; are not readily available to deal with infrastructure repairs. Further, although there are reserves for capital expenses, the five-year capital plan identifies projects to be funded from these reserves so unless we were to cancel or defer these projects the reserves will be spent. In regard to the timing of statements about municipal finances, when the budget meeting was held we had not finished processing all of the transactions for 2017. As some capital projects were not completed in 2017, the funds allocated have been reserved and will be used in 2018 to complete the projects. Also, the District was able to post a $670,000 surplus in the general fund in 2017 which was not known at the time of the budget meeting. This 2017 surplus reversed the District’s accumulated deficit of approximately $500,000 to an accumulated surplus of $170,000. And finally, the annual financial statements that the District Auditor referred to at the Council meeting where he stated that the reserves are 0.7% of our assets represent the balances of the accounts on December 31, 2017. We need to take into consideration any transactions that have occurred since then or that are planned in the budget.

Q:What is happening with traffic safety around ‘West Sechelt Elementary?

The school board is making some changes to the traffic patterns to the parking lot.

District staff are working with the school district to discuss traffic and safety.

Once the work in the parking lot is confirmed, an assessment and planning can begin.

Q:The sewer parcel tax is confusing and seems unfair. Is there a plan to fix it?

An analysis of how sewer costs are recovered (parcel tax vs. user fee) is being conducted by the Finance Division.  The issue will be brought to the Finance, Culture and Economic Development Committee (FCED) before the sewer rates are set for 2018.  The goal is to establish criteria that determine which levies are applied to which properties that is fair.

2017 Questions

Q:How can I speak to council?

Members of the public can apply to speak and present material to Council as a delegation at Regular Council meetings. Details on how to apply and the rules governing delegations can be viewed on our Contact Mayor and Council page.

Appointments with the Mayor may be obtained by contacting info@Sechelt.ca or 604-885-1986. In some cases, meeting requests may be referred to District staff. Staff, under the direction of the Chief Administrative Officer, have the responsibility for day to day operations and may be in a better position to assist.

Members of the public also have the option of writing to Mayor and Council. Letters and emails directed to Mayor and/or Council, are forwarded on a weekly basis to all members of Council. Items of Council Correspondence that meet criteria for public circulation are also posted weekly on the District’s website and may also be included on the Council Correspondence section of Regular Council Meeting agendas.

Q:How can I become a delegation at a Council or Committee meeting?

Members of the public can apply to speak and present material to Council as a delegation at Regular Council or Standing Committee meetings. Details on how to apply and the rules governing delegations can be viewed on our Contact Mayor and Council page.

Q:What is the garbage and recycling pickup schedule for my neighbourhood?

Calendars of curbside garbage and recycling collection calendars are available on our Garbage and Recycling page.  Garbage is picked up weekly on either Tuesdays or Fridays (depending on your neighbourhood) Dry recyclables (Blue Bins) are picked up bi-weekly on Mondays. In areas with Curbside Organics Recycling Collection (Green Bins), these are collected weekly on Fridays.

Q:How do I appeal my Property Tax Assessment?

Property assessments and appeals are done through BC Assessment.  Information on the appeal process can be found on the following website: https://bcassessment.ca/Services-products/appeals/Appealing-your-Assessment

The deadline to appeal your 2017 Property Assessment is Tuesday, January 31, 2017.





Submit a Question to "For the Record"

Your Contact Information

Your Question

We welcome your feedback

Do you have a correction or comment?  Email us at communications@sechelt.ca

If you have a question you would like answered please submit it using the form on the right.