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October 27, 2017 10:54 pm

Council Says Yes to Otway Rezoning

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 @ 9:35 PM

Prince George, B.C.- Having spent  several years  with the  School District and  dealing with  closing of schools,  Mayor Lyn Hall says  this issue of  rezoning  land on Otway Road,  is  one of the most difficult issues  he  has  faced.

After hearing 10 hours and 40 minutes of presentations, Council  got down to the matter of making a decision.

The final  vote was 5-3 in favour of the rezoning, with  councillors Merrick, Skakun  and Krause in  opposition.

Mayor Hall, Councillors Scott, Frizzell , McConnachie  and Koehler  voted  in favour.  Councillor Frank Everitt was  absent.

Here are the details on why they  voted the way they did.

Councillor Murry Krause  started off  by  saying no matter what Council decides, there will be some who will not be  happy.  He said he could not support the application.

Councillor Terri McConnachie  noted the passion of the neighbours  to preserve their quality of life.  “When you look at the proximity , we have a collision of land use” as she noted the varied  uses along Otway .  She said this application does not  represent new industry  moving into the area  and supports the  plan “CIF and Timber west are already there.”

Councillor Brian Skakun    says while there is industrial activity in the Otway Road area  right now,  that doesn’t mean  more should be allowed.  He cited  concerns over the ground water protection, and previous  rejections of similar  applications ( 2004)  and  that  the proponent should have been advised of the  previous  rejection by administration and not recommended this project for  approval.  “This is about a long term vision  for the River Valley.” said Skakun as he  made it clear he would not support the  rezoning.

Councillor Jillian Merrick said yes, the businesses have been there for a long time,  “but even the zone they are  in is troublesome”  as that  site remains   industrial, so she says the  rezoning is additional  industrial.  She said she too has a vision for the river and the waterfront  and considers the property in question to be the tipping point  for the future of  development along Otway.

Councillor Albert Koehler  said he  walked the site  several times, and has noted the noise factor .”There was a lot of fear mongering going on in my opinion” says Koehler  who says there were   many  presentations   posing  the potential  for accidents.  He said the OCP  is  a plan but, “Things are not black and white and we have to let common sense prevail” said Koehler.  “Noise was the biggest concern” said Koehler,  he said if the applicant  moves the  works indoors and erects a berm of a significant  height,  there should be no noise. “I’m  looking for the greater good for Prince George” said Koehler  as he said he would  support the application.

Councillor Susan Scott was  not clear on the sourcing of the noise factor,  and said she  didn’t see how this  move would make things worse for the neighbours.

Councillor Garth Frizzell  said it was clear  the community wants a long term plan for the river valley.  He said he  balanced  points both for and against and  supports the  rezoning.

Mayor Lyn Hall said “This is a very difficult decision”  and asked for  staff comment  on  ground water protection.  The  response  must have given him the assurance he needed, because when the vote was called,  he  voted in favour.




I wasn’t surprised with the vote. When this council does not ask questions it is a sure slam. Also the idea of looking into future plans of the areas along the rivers etc for the future? What is the OCP for? Obviously nothing.

Maybe if council and the people are serious about protecting the land around our rivers is to start lobbying the provincial government.

    Over 10 hours of presentations. What questions would be left unanswered?

      If you pulled out the long winded rants from the opponents, this public hearing would have been about 5 to 6 hours. Way too long saying the same things over and over again. It was embarrassing.

OCP who needs OCP just a bunch of words on paper. Next up, tear down the pool and build the PAC. Oh and when the PAC is built there will be plugins for Koehler and Frizzell’s city bought Tesla’s.

Council just made one of the worst decisions possible for this city. None of the opposers were against the proponents and their businesses. They were just against their location.

Councillor Merrick hit the nail on the head, that this application is a tipping point. Well the floodgates have just been opened; it is going to be a free-for-all for businesses to buy cheap land along the river and create a large industrial area there while property in other parts of the city that is already zoned for this purpose sits vacant.

Good luck fellow citizens in getting your boat launched, having a peaceful canoe trip down the nechako or having a picnic on the riverbank. Cottonwood park is slowly slipping into the river and the rest of the riverfront will be filled with industry.

A long term plan for the river valley, if the City ever pursues this, will be a moot point. By the time it’s done, there will be no riverfront left to do anything with. And it’ll probably be just like the OCP anyway, which apparently can be changed at the drop of a hat.

There are only three Councillors who have the right vision for this City – Mr. Skakun, Mr. Krause amd Ms. Merrick. I know who’ll get my vote in the next election.

C’mon! Councillor Merrick took ten minutes to say absolutely nothing!
Besides, the area is not riverfront, the Old Fichner millsite is. That is what you want to be concerned about – how about kicking off the trailer court and all those residences between the two railway crossings. Perhaps our taxes should be spent to buy those properties. Oh, and you will also want the city to buy the riverfront properties along Riverview Road.
Councillor Koehler had it right – he has some experience with noise.
This development has absolutely nothing to do with launching your boat, nor running it, on the river.
Wait, what about those noisy River-rats with their high powered and noisy jet boats?
This decision is right, you still have your river intact.
Oh, but wait – move the CNR for peace and tranquility!

    I am concerned about what will happen to the entire corridor along the nechako and what this decision will mean for its future. Did u not read the entire post?

      Entire corridor! What does that mean? Are you suggesting the city set in motion a fast plan to remove all of the industries from the area between Foothills and Otway Nordic Centre? WHO is going to propose that?
      This decision to allow the relocation of the two companies will provide a built in control of activities in this part of the ‘corridor’. 219 covenants are being talked about that may set out some operational restrictions – something that is not possible right now. If the proposal had been turned down by council, the two companies would continue to operate under current ‘rules’ and the good people of the bench lands would continue to endure unpleasant noises from the other side as they would try to enjoy their coffee on their riverside sundecks.

    nuffsnuff1 writes:”how about kicking off the trailer court and all those residences between the two railway crossings.”

    The city has already hurt the business owning the trailer court. It is not allowed to put any more trailers on the property. The city has affected the income already for the trailer court.

Yes who can forget Hall’s nonsense knowledge with school closures? Of course, Hall will explain that all those concerned had a voice in the matter
and he will get off the hook. He is known for these conversations..shame on city council!

    I am surprised that he got elected mayor after his two dozen school closures he enabled. Like a one man wrecking ball to community neighbourhoods. I guess voters in PG have short memories about these things.

    I am surprised that he got elected mayor after his two dozen school closures he enabled. Like a one man wrecking ball to community neighbourhoods. I guess voters in PG have short memories about these things. What neighbourhood will be next?

Someone just made millions on land arbitrage. Zoning laws mean nothing in PG and having them changed after the fact is very profitable. This is a very bad signal to the future of city planning in PG.

What is equally outrageous is the miles and miles of fully serviced light industrial land on the Willow Cale and Boundary Road developments that the city spent over $70 million developing between the two properties and then now they send the signal to business that they don’t have to locate in those places. Just find an unserviced piece of land for cheep anywhere and redone it.

So what of the lack of services? Will the city insist on the developer building these on their own dime to city standards or do they get a pass on that as well?

I think berms are a wrong solution to hide or obscure noisy or unsightly undertakings that should not be there in the first place. Usually berms have do not get landscaped properly and look lousy.

Take away the “have” – too early in the morning. BTW, look at the monster sand dune next to YRB along the highway! The other day the sand blowing off it slowed the traffic on the Hart to a crawl! Come to think of it, that wasn’t such a bad thing as the traffic usually zooms along at 90 or more – more sand dunes, perhaps?

If this city council found the decision on such a simple proposal, so difficult… I really hate to see the day they have a hard choice to make. Lets hope we never have to face any sort of natural disaster or a new part of the town calls for a rezoning…

nuffsnuff1, by entire corridor I mean that the city needs to consider property that is in the river valley as well as that which is directly on the riverfront. I did not say they should remove current industries now, but they shouldn’t be adding more industrial activity there.

the proponents and some of the councilors said this rezoning was ok because they are “already there”. when in fact they are not. they are operating on the rolling mix site, which will continue to remain industrial and not reduce its land size. so with this rezoning they have just increased the amount of industrial land in that area. and allowed these businesses to potentially expand their operations.

and I’m talking about the entire riverfront. yes there is industry already in some of those areas. and again, I’m not saying to pull out the existing operations. but let’s have a thoughtful plan about the overall use of this area before we approve one-off applications willy-nilly and find ourselves with no desirable land left.

    Fair comments. I agree it is high time for an all inclusive river corridor plan.
    But the land in question was the former helicopter base – which by all accounts need to be seen and classified as light industrial. And yes, there was a ski jump hill immediately south of the helicopter base building some years ago; but that does not place an automatic recreational land label on the property.
    But, I am not going to convince you that I am right, nor are you going to convince me that you are right.
    I will leave it at that!

I’m not sure as to what the big deal is here. That entire zone from foothills to the first railway crossing is filled with industrial areas. It looks to me like that was the plan all along.

    If we could get the trains to stop blowing the whistle at 4:00 in the morning right from the bend at Miworth to the Foothills crossing.

I for one am disgusted with the outcome. I hope there is legal recourse for the opponents. The City blows it again. Next up we’ll have the PAC shoved down our throats. Open wide.

    If we had a provincial municipal board there would be a recourse that would be quick and simple. The board would not look at whether the City had the right to do what it had done, which is what was the situation when they took the Haldi Road case to court.

    Such a Board would look at whether the decisions was a reasonable decision. It would be a de novo case (a new look at the pros and cons). They would bring neutrality to the case.

The vote went exactly as I thought it would. Merrick will only vote for it if it included a bike lane. Skakun voted against it because enough people were opposed and voiced the opinion meaning an opportunity to be “The Man of the People”, Krause won’t support anything that doesn’t directly affect the downtown core. The yes vote came from: an engineer who I trust more than any of them. At least he got off his ass and walked the site a couple of times, the mayor who sees that tax base is something this town needs if it plans on continuing, a councilor who works in the construction association trade and would support it no matter what and Frizzell who has a knack for voting and then working the solution to the problems created into the very same meeting. The unknown for me was Scott. She said very little in the meetings, expressed little or no interest and as usual sat there and did nothing for 10 hours.

Skakun made references to rejections n 2004. What were these rejections pertaining to????

In any event if City Staff had killed this application in the beginning it would have never gone forward.

What we have here is business once again, going through City Administration, and then putting pressure on the Council to pass the proposal.

Notice that they all jump up and down when it comes to chickens in the backyard, or some other miniscule proposal, they flex their muscles, and pretend to be tuff. However when it comes to business applications we get an entirely different Council.

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