A legal opinion obtained by the Islands Trust says the owner of a real estate development at Bullock Lake has the right to “complete, occupy and use” all 123 resort cottages on the site.
The perspective supports Platform Properties’ right to occupy 50 vacant cottages and build 73 more units on existing foundations at 315 Robinson Road.
Lawyers from Young Anderson Barristers and Solicitors based their opinion on the so-called grandfathering clause contained in Section 911 of the province’s Local Government Act.
According to the legal opinion released to the public on Friday, July 18, “a building that is lawfully under construction at the time of a zoning change can be used for the purpose described in the building permit authorizing its construction.”
The Capital Regional District issued building permits for the development (which includes 123 cottages, a water reservoir, sewage treatment plant and pump shed) on Sept. 11, 1996. Construction on the structures is reported to have started the following day.
It wasn’t until Nov. 6, 1996 that members of the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee rezoned the Bullock Lake Properties from Commercial 4 to Rural, the latter being a zone that prohibits such a large-scale development.
“Since the evidence indicates that construction of the 123 resort cottages had started prior to adoption of the bylaw rezoning, the BLP lands from C4 to R, all such buildings that were under construction were deemed to be lawfully in use,” reads part of the legal opinion.
Cameron Chalmers, a spokesperson for Platform Properties, said the decision confirms what he and company executives have always maintained but does “reframe the question.”
He said the company will continue a rezoning application that would limit the number of units on the site to 50 cottages and an amenity building accessible to the community. The company’s proposal, he added, would include eight hectares (20-acres) of public space, habitat and riparian area protection, and a four-metre pathway dedication along part of Robinson Road.
The company believes there is a project under the current non-conforming status, but that it’s in everybody’s interest to pursue a “win-win” result.
“The reality of the baseline,” Chalmers said, “is not a rural development.”
A updated Islands Trust staff report on Platform Properties’ rezoning application is among agenda items slated for the LTC’s Thursday afternoon session at the Lions Hall.