Transit Site in P.G. – What Now?
Prince George, B.C. – Barely 24-hours removed from Prince George City Council’s decision to unanimously quash plans to locate new BC Transit Operations and Maintenance facility at Foothills and 18th due to public outcry, talks were already underway to try and find a new site.
“The City of Prince George has made a land-use decision based on public feedback and we have to respect that land-use decision,” says BC Transit communications manager Jonathan Dyck.
“We are working in partnership with the City of Prince George to find another location that can meet the needs of the community as the current facility is nearing capacity and that was what drove the project to find a new location for BC Transit’s Operations and Maintenance facility in Prince George.” Currently, BC Transit is operating out of a leased site in the BCR Industrial Park in Prince George.
The catch is that the new project, to meet the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund requirements, a new facility must be completed by March 2019.
“We will be working with the city to try and identify another site as there a need in the city for a new transit facility,” says Dyck. “As we review the sites, we’ll have to keep the deadline in mind and the potential cost of another site.”
So, which sites are being considered?
“We’ve looked at a number of sites previously and are revisiting sites and trying to identify any new opportunities,” says Dyck. “As we may be entering land negotiations for other potential sites as we try to identify where they might be, we can’t comment about locations that might be considered.”
He says they will have more answers on the $23 million facility “as that process moves forward.”
The City has confirmed sites reviewed during the first go-round are being revisited, and some new potential sites have been added to the list for consideration. B.C. Transit has the final say on which property it believes is best suited for the operations and maintenance centre.
One thing is clear, the sites now being considered will not require a change to the Official Community Plan. All sites being reviewed have Industrial zoning, but may need to be rezoned within that category from heavy industrial to light industrial. That would bring the matter back to Council for a public hearing.
The City paid $525 thousand dollars last fall for the piece of property which made up part of the overall site which Council has now rejected. The other portion of the site had been purchased by the City nearly 20 years ago in preparation for the possible extension of Foothills Boulevard. As Councillor Frank Everitt noted during Monday night’s discussion on rejecting the site, there will be a financial repercussion for the City ” We will have to go through that,(process) to find the appropriate piece of property and it’s going to cost us some money, but if that’s what folks want us to do, then that will be the price we have to pay to have the right property people will be satisfied with and Council will be satisfied with.”
The overall project would have seen traffic lights installed at Foothills and 18th Avenue, the west end snow dump at Foothills and 15th moved, and improved pedestrian crossings as well as curb and gutter to bring that stretch of Foothills up to City standards. With the proposed site now off the list, the roadway improvements have lost some of their urgency, although the City is still moving forward to find a new site for the west bowl snow dump.