Council Says Yes to Otway Rezoning
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.