Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

TUP process flawed, says Salty Dog owner

The following is approximately half of the delegation Salty Dog Retreat operator Jaime Halan-Harris intends to present to the Dec. 14 Salt Spring Local Trust Committee meeting in requesting she be allowed to re-apply for a temporary use permit for a dog kennel that is also providing some housing.

The Salt Spring Local Trust Committee (LTC) considered my temporary use permit (TUP) application at the Nov. 16 meeting and voted in agreement with the staff report recommendations, which denied my application and closed the file.

Let me accept some responsibility for missing the meeting. However, my lack of readiness, an incomplete application and poor communication with Trust office staff all contributed to a regrettable outcome.

In light of the results and circumstances of my first application, I ask the LTC to waive the one-year waiting period so I may re-apply with the benefit of experience I gained from the process and speak to the merits of my temporary plan for the 130 Blackburn Rd. property.

Considering all the effort I invested in meeting the requirements of various agencies, I trust you will find it reasonable to waive the one-year waiting period so I may speak to the merits of my application. In addition, urgency is required in order to maintain the kennel. This delegation describes the services Salty Dog delivers to the community, explains how the Salty Dog Retreat business protects the watershed, addresses concerns raised by the planners and suggests reasonable next steps.

Community Services

Salty Dog Retreat offers significant services to emergency workers who encounter dogs that require immediate care. For the past six years I have supported the community by caring for lost dogs and rescues at no cost. This means that I accept dogs brought to me by the RCMP, CRD, IWAV, hospital and ambulance services, SPCA and people in the community. Sometimes, this means I take care of 10 or more of these dogs at a time. For CRD in particular, my kennel operation is an official pound facility. I perform this community service to CRD at no charge.

With respect to the community water supply system, the levelling of land in the sandy area of the property to allow for a cluster of temporary structures also manifests as a community amenity. The amenity is that levelling the land enhances groundwater infiltration. Covering kennel areas with temporary roof structures directs precipitation away from nutrient-enriched wood chips so precipitation infiltrates without contacting kennel operations.

Watershed Protection

A qualified engineer (Bradley Fossen of Aurora Professional Group) assessed the risk of impact to shallow groundwater and wrote that as designed and operated, the kennel posed no greater risk than would be “created by a primary dwelling with a properly designed and installed onsite sewerage system and likely less risk than that from a light agricultural operation.”

Trust Recommendations

The Nov. 16 staff report imputes exclusions not found in the island’s official community plan (OCP), misrepresent important facts about Salty Dog and quotes the OCP out of context.

Furthermore, the TUP application form compels staff to ensure applications are complete before opening a file. This is important because the staff report includes significant criticism that the application does not include “information on the impact to the watershed, well information, septic information, or a Building Location Certificate prepared by a qualified surveyor.” Obviously, LTC staff accepted my incomplete application.

Here are examples of items that skewed the report against issuance. I begin with what the staff report says is the “primary reason for non-support.”“Recommendation 1. a. The SSI OCP Bylaw No. 434 does not list the Watershed and Islet Residential designation as eligible for TUP issuance.”

While it is true that the OCP does not list the watershed land designation, the staff report imputes that only listed land designations are eligible for a TUP. The main problem with imputing eligibility from a list is that plain reading of Part G, the TUP section of the OCP, shows there is no restriction to additional land designations. The terms “can be issued” and “may issue” allow trustees to exercise discretion.

In my TUP application, the salient issue is risk to a sensitive watershed that is also within a community water supply system. Since the engineer’s letter affirms that the risk of adverse impacts to the watershed are less than or equal to a single-family dwelling, the substantive concern about impact to watershed issue should be considered properly dealt with.

Clearly, it is reasonable to believe that if the OCP meant for the list of land designations to be exhaustive and exclusive, the language would say so.

Misrepresents Basic Facts

The staff report misrepresents basic facts. The staff report does not describe the subject property zoning accurately. The report states “the 10.06-acre property is zoned Rural Watershed 1 (RW1).” MAPiT indicates 130 Blackburn Rd. is split zoned R1 and RW1. About 17 per cent of the property is zoned R1. Kennels are permitted in R1 zoning.

Regarding the well, the staff report states: “The operation has been drawing from a non-registered and unlicensed well on site.” In fact, the provincial, online well registry indicates the well, Tag Number 43497, 1979 (3 GPM), was registered in 2003.

The staff report makes an unsubstantiated claim that development included unauthorized soil removal. In fact, development of the property did not require or cause any soil removal.

OCP Quoted Out of Context

In general, the staff report implies an embargo on development in RW1 zoning areas when single-family dwelling, home-based business and agriculture are permitted. The best example of this bias relates to the primary reason for denial, that the list does not include the RW1 designation. The planner comments state “this can likely be attributed to the OCP policy around no further development in these designations.” This narrow comment downplays that zoning allows for dwelling, home-based business and agriculture.

Furthermore, notwithstanding the staff report claim that my TUP application “meets none of the TUP objectives,” Objective G.1.2.2 provides for use of land “to provide essential community services not provided by local government.” Meeting one of the objectives is sufficient.

In addition, the staff report states “the applicant has moved the kennel business from a suitably zoned property without obtaining required land use permissions to a rural watershed zoned property … while other adequately zoned properties exist.” This statement offends fairness three ways. First, a family law judge ordered the suitably zoned property sold. Second, my realtor offered only one property as zoned R1 and the split zoning was not reported. Third, the staff report fails to acknowledge the G.1.3.6 TUP Permit Guideline that states, in part, “Consideration could also be given to the temporary relocation of an existing business in emergency or hardship situations.”

Next Steps

In the event the LTC agrees to waive the one-year waiting period to reapply for TUP, please expect the engineer to expand on his work. In particular, he will generate draft recommendations for the design and implementation of a shallow groundwater-monitoring program in combination with scheduled operational compliance inspections.

Let me close by speaking briefly to the emergency housing aspects of the kennel operation. In general, the OCP welcomes island-based businesses that support challenged, unemployed and homeless people with counselling, employment and safe, emergency housing. Within the OCP these attributes are promoted, encouraged and needed.

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  1. Salty Dog kennels is a needed business on Salt Spring Island. The SPCA doesn’t supply a kennel for dogs on the island. The size of Salt Spring and its population warrants one for sure! Salt Spring will go the way of the Dodo bird if things aren’t fast tracked and businesses allowed to provide the necessary facilities to the people! Salt Springers need these facilities now!


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