Saanich councillor declares conflict of interest in cottage development

Coun. Fred Haynes excused himself from council chambers as his colleagues debated and approved his development permit application for a lake-front cottage on the shores of Prospect Lake.

Members of Saanich council Monday approved plans by one of their own to build a private cottage next to Prospect Lake.

With Coun. Fred Haynes out of the room after having declared a conflict of interest, council approved a development permit for 5009 Prospect Lake Road, where Haynes and his wife Cathy plan to build a two-storey, one-bedroom cottage, whose total area would amount to 1,465 square-foot, or 136 square-metres.

Coun. Vickie Sanders opposed approval. Council made the decision after nothing less than a whole company of consultants had covered seemingly every aspect of the proposal. Their combined presentations lasted 75 minutes, a new record, according to Sanders, who chaired council during the committee of the whole session that heard the application.

“I don’t know if the Haynes will have any money left after they have paid for all of these consultants,” said Lawrence Watling, a member of the public, who spoke in favour of the proposal, drawing knowing laughter from the audience, shortly after they had wrapped up. Overall, the issue took up more than two hours.

Others including councillors were less indulgent.

While Coun. Leif Wergeland said he “appreciated” the level of detail, he also expressed frustrations about halfway through the presentation. “I think we are getting an overkill on the whole presentations,” he said in urging one of the consultants to keep the presentation moving. Wergeland later qualified his comments by saying that the Haynes had put a lot of thought into their application and obviously enjoy support from the neighbourhood.

Staff had recommended approval of the application, which also received support from the Prospect Lake and District Community Association (PLDCA) and several of Haynes’ neighbours, many of whom praised the application’s level of attention to detail and sensitivity to the concerns of the neighbourhood.

Walter Large, who lives in the Prospet Lake neighbourhood, said the Haynes have spared no expense and effort to protect the environment in describing them as pillars of the local neighbourhood.

Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning, said in a report to council that the proposal conforms with the Official Community Plan in retaining the stormwater holding capacity of floodplains.

“It is also consistent with the requirements of the Flood Plain Development Permit Area Guidelines in that foundations of the proposed dwelling would be partially outside the floodplain area, the portions of the building for human habitation are located above the floodplain elevation, and impacts on the receiving aquatic environment are minimized,” she said.

Haynes plans to build his cottage in the southwest corner of the site, where the lot reaches its highest elevation. “The minimum habitable floor area elevation of the dwelling would be restricted to (an elevation line) of 49.3 m or higher and a covenant would be required as a condition of a building permit issuance to save [Saanich] and the [province] harmless in case of flooding,” said Hvozdanski.

Single family dwellings on lakefront lots and residences on larger rural lots surround the property and the proposed building would be more than just a home. “The stated objective for the site is to create a showcase project that would provide a positive example of how lakeshore property owners can combine the use of their property with an ecologically functioning riparian zone to improve the short and long-term health of Prospect Lake,” Hvozdanski said.

According to Hvozdanski, the owners have promised to construct the cottage according to BUILT GREEN® Gold or an equivalent energy and environmental performance standard. The building would be solar ready and include a green roof that would collect and filter rainwater to reduce the chance of soil disturbance during a major storm event among other features, she added. Haynes’ application also promised to restore damaged riparian area.

Most of the letters — like most of the speakers Monday night — supported the application.

Others however raised concerns. “I am withdrawing my support of this application because I was assured by (Coun. Haynes) that the house would not be built into the floodplain,” said Norma Martin in a letter. “As a long term resident of this community, I am very concerned about the sustainability of the lake. The flood plain issue is extremely important, and should remain so.”

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