White Rock residents who took the city to court over a bylaw that they maintain resulted from flawed processes have had their petition to have it declared invalid dismissed.
The decision regarding Bylaw 2045 by Justice G. Bruce Butler was announced Monday, just over three months after the matter was heard in B.C. Supreme Court chambers.
“I conclude that the bylaw is consistent with the OCP and it is premature to determine if a development permit is required,” Butler writes. “Accordingly, I dismiss the petition.”
The petition was filed in March 2014 by Belaire residents Dennis Lypka and Bill Holmes, within weeks of White Rock council approving Bylaw 2045 on a 4-2 vote. The decision cleared the way for an eight-storey, 199-bed care facility for the Evergreen Campus of Care, at 1550 Oxford St. – immediately south of the 12-storey Belaire.
During public information meetings, opponents expressed concerns with the process, as well as the facility’s anticipated impact to views, natural light, neighbourhood traffic and property values.
The petitioners’ lawyer argued the project was wrongly characterized as institutional, and therefore the bylaw was inconsistent with White Rock’s Official Community Plan.
The standard of review is one of correctness, he said.
The city’s lawyer, however, argued the issue should be decided on a standard of reasonableness.
In his reasons, Butler said there “is no merit” to the petitioners’ position regarding the standard of review. He noted a 2011 court decision on a matter in Saanich “determined that the standard of review when considering the question of consistency between a local government’s bylaw and OCP is reasonableness.”
“In this case, there is no question that the standard of review is reasonableness,” Butler writes. “Further, there is no question that the standard of review requires considerable deference: this court should not interfere unless the bylaw is one which no reasonable body could have passed, taking into account the legislative scheme and the policies and objectives set out in the OCP.”
Finding the bylaw consistent with the OCP is “the only reasonable conclusion,” Butler found. “Quite simply, there is nothing in the bylaw which is inconsistent with the goals or policies set out in the OCP.”
Regarding the issue of requiring a development permit for the project, Butler said the request was premature, as the project had not reached the appropriate stage, and the petitioners did not name the property owner as a respondent.
In a statement issued late Monday afternoon, city officials said they are pleased with Butler’s ruling, which also entitles the city to costs.
Lypka said by email Monday that turning to the courts was the residents’ only meaningful option for preserving and protecting their interests as citizens and homeowners. He reiterated that they do not oppose the principle of development or expansion, but the plan to “build such a massive institutional building so high and so close to our homes.”
Lypka noted that Belaire residents will “carefully review” the decision before deciding how to proceed.