Council Starts Deliberations on Otway
Prince George, B.C.- The third session of a public hearing on the proposed rezoning of a piece of property on Otway Road started with a call for peace but it was clear there would be more jousting before Council would make a decision.
Another 2 hours and 40 minutes of comments and presentations were put before Prince George City Council on the matter of the rezoning and amendment of the Official Community Plan to allow a piece of property on Otway road to be used for light industrial development.
In all, there had been 10 hours and 40 minutes of public input spread over three separate nights.
Robert Hillhouse told Council he had been asked by both sides on this issue to speak, and told Council “It pains me to see so much controversy”. He outlined some of the consequences the City may face no matter what the final decision might be. If Council approves the rezoning, the City could face legal action from area residents as was the case in the rezoning of a property in the Haldi Road area.
If Council denies the application, he suggested the proponent may suffer significant losses and may seek some sort of compensation.
Those in favour and in opposition to the industrial rezoning stated their cases in what one speaker referred to as “excruciating detail”.
It had been raised that the two businesses don’t have a ground water protection permit for the proposed site. David McWalter, speaking on behalf of the proponents, said the proponents are exempt from needing such a permit because of the “benign nature” of their operations. He said there will be a holding tank for waste waters and the holding tank will be pumped out regularly so it poses no danger to the aquifer which is the main source of the city’s water.
One thing is clear, many of those who oppose the rezoning want the City to seize the opportunity to see the big picture of the value of the Nechako corridor. Jim Burbee told Council, “It’s not just about a neighbourhood, it’s about the entire City having access to that asset.” He pointed out that only 2% of the riverfront in this city is accessible.
The piece of property under consideration does not have river access. The property is on the south side of Otway Road, while on the north side, there are CN tracks and another strip of land that stretches to the river bank.
As one presenter stressed, “This is a battle between the here and now and the future,.”
After taking a short break upon officially closing the public hearing City Council began its deliberations.
More to come.