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North Cowichan considers shortening wait times to resubmit rejected rezoning applications

But rejected applications to amend OCP would still have to wait 12 months
North Cowichan’s council is considering shortening the time it takes for rezoning applications it rejected to be submitted for reconsideration if there are no changes to them. (Citizen file photo)

A new bylaw North Cowichan is considering will see rezoning applications that have been denied by council have to wait six months before they can be submitted for reconsideration if there are no changes to them.

Currently, there are no time limits on how long such applications are required to wait before they are resubmitted.

Council gave the first three readings at a recent meeting to an amendment to North Cowichan’s development bylaw that would see the six-month wait time come into effect.

However, if the bylaw amendment gets a fourth and final reading at a future council meeting, applications for changes to the municipality’s official community plan will have to wait for 12 months to reapply if they are rejected by council and there are no changes.


Coun. Christopher Justice asked staff what the reasons are behind having wait periods to resubmit rejected applications in the first place.

CAO Ted Swabey said the policy suggests that North Cowichan doesn’t want unchanged applications to be just resubmitted repeatedly if they’re turned down, in an ongoing effort to wear council members down until they finally approve them.

Coun. Mike Caljouw said the original proposal that applicants would have to wait 12 months is a long time for people to reapply with unchanged applications for zoning changes.

“The whole world can change in 12 months so I think six months is an adequate amount of time to wait,” he said.

Coun. Bruce Findlay said the difference between six and 12 months, from a developer’s perspective, can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, and he accepted that the waiting time should be six months. The motion to leave the waiting time to resubmit applications to change the OCP at 12 months for unchanged applications proved a little more contentious among council members.

Mayor Rob Douglas said the current OCP is relatively new and he feels council has to be careful with applications to change it if it’s going to maintain the integrity of the document.


He said that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be opportunities to amend it, but he would prefer applicants of rejected applications wait 12 months rather than just six.

“One of my big concerns is getting an application that council doesn’t pass, and then it keeps coming back and there’s quite a lot of pressure on individual council members to change their minds,” Douglas said.

“However, there’s always exceptions to the policy and if something did come out of nowhere and we decide that we’ve changed our minds, council members would not be stopped from bringing it forward to council looking for an exemption from the policy.”

Coun. Tek Manhas said the municipality’s treatment of all rezoning applications should be consistent, regardless if they are asking for amendments to the OCP or not.

“The OCP is supposed to be a high-level guideline, not the Bible,” he said. “Actually, the OCP can be amended at any time, more or less.”

The motion to have a 12-month waiting period for rejected applications to change the OCP before they can be resubmitted unchanged passed 4-3, with Manhas, Findlay and Caljouw opposed.

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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