INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS
What you need to know.
In May 2019, the owner of 3659 Sooke Rd applied to the District for a Temporary Commercial Use Permit (TUP) for what was termed a 'soil recycling' operation. If granted, the TUP would have brought an industrial operation into Metchosin, and allowed this to take place in an area zoned Upland (residential use). Public opposition followed, and the TUP application was eventually withdrawn.
The APRM understands that the property owner has filed a rezoning application for this site. While we have not seen the application, it is highly likely that the property owner will be looking again at an industrial operation at this site.
The APRM's perspective
The land swap in 2017 initiated by Metchosin has brought attention to the lands along the Sooke Road corridor as it created an industrial zone in Langford immediately adjacent to these lands in Metchosin.
This change was soon followed by an application for a Temporary Commercial Use Permit by Brian Baker of Tri-X Excavating for a “soil reclamation” project on his lot at 3695 Sooke Road which was strongly supported by Mayor Ranns. The difficulty for Mr. Baker and the Mayor is that this lot is zoned Upland (10 acre residential lots) and the application would be in direct conflict with the current zoning.
The application was eventually withdrawn. Afterward, information obtained through Freedom of Information access revealed that the landowner had been using the site for a dump of construction waste and garbage. The property was also being used for business purposes, with numerous trucks and heavy equipment regularly leaving and arriving from the site. Again, this type of use is not permitted by Metchosin’s bylaws.
Metchosin staff have advised that the landowner has filed a re-zoning application for an unspecified use. There was a temporary delay in this land use application being brought to Metchosin’s Planning Committee (step one in the rezoning process) due to the on-going operation of the landowner's unpermitted business. Council would not consider the application due to its “Clean Hands” policy; in short, nothing was to be considered from the owner until the unauthorized business activities at 3659 Sooke Road ceased.
We expect that the landowner's rezoning application will be directed toward allowing for industrial use of these lands.
If such a change in zoning is granted, we should anticipate further proposals for rezoning along Sooke Road given what has already happened on two nearby sites. Further up the road, another Sooke Road property owner was given permission by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and Metchosin in 2006 to import soil on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and non ALR land to create a “turf farm”. By 2019, there have been thousands of truck loads brought to this site (conservative estimates put the volume at 106,000 cubic metres of fill), yet there is no sign of a turf farm. Instead a large bench has been created which may be suitable for industrial use. In 2020, the ALC inspected the site and stopped further soil imports. We await the ALC’s report on potential enforcement and/or remediation of this ALR designated land toward agricultural purposes.
And, at yet another Sooke Road property, the District of Metchosin permitted fill on ALR land in 2017. This was stopped by the province due to its intrusion on the Veitch Creek wetlands, but the fill area has not been remediated and is clearly suitable for industrial use.
The future of the land along Sooke Road in Metchosin is now clearly up to the Council and the community. Is industrial use on these lands to be preferred to present zoning to increase taxes? With your help and input, this is the question Metchosin residents are going to have to address step by step. Please watch for further news.