Residents Show Opposition to B.C. Transit Facility Plan
Video shows size of crowd gathered for public information meeting
Prince George, B.C. – While the Midway has set up on the Exhibition Grounds in Prince George, City staff had to work hard last night to prevent a meeting in the Kin 1 Lounge from turning into a circus.
The meeting was to share information and collect comments on the proposed amendment to the Official Community Plan and a rezoning application to allow the construction of a proposed $23 million dollar BC Transit facility.
The location is west of Foothills and south of 18th Avenue, in an undeveloped area near Ginter’s field, a popular off leash dog park. It is also an area which many citizens have adopted as a greenspace. With the exception of a sliver of land that is up against a hill ( for slope stability purposes) the property has never been zoned as greenbelt said Manager of Planning and Development Ian Wells. He told the gathering the property in question has always been zoned for residential, and open to the development of single, multi family or mobile home park uses.
The site is one of three considered for possible use by BC Transit, and those who attended the meeting wanted details on the other sites which were scratched from the list of possibilities. That is information they were not about to get as the City never reveals such information because of the possible impact it may have on the owner’s ability to sell to another potential customer.
Lack of information was a recurring theme from those who stepped up to the microphone to ask for details from either the City staff, or the representatives from BC Transit. They wanted a complete breakdown on the budget and the costs to the City and a variety of studies . “Have you done a socio-economic assessment on the benefits of this greenspace to the community” asked one woman. Levi Timmerman of B.C. Transit had a simple answer to that “No” was his response. There was also no study done on the noise impacts to the residents of the Carriage House apartment buildings just north of the proposed site.
While the public hearing, where Mayor and Council will make the final decision on this project, has yet to be scheduled, residents expressed frustration that they don’t have all the information they need in order to prepare their case for presentation at that public hearing.
Although OCP amendments and rezoning issues are to be decided on land use issues only, Susan Williamson spoke up “This is not a simple land use decision and if you are not getting that, then you need to open your ears.”
Each and every person who rose to speak against the project had their presentation punctuated with applause. The lone man, a bus driver by profession, who spoke in favour of the proposal drew boos and hisses from the crowd.
B.C. Transit points to two other communities which have transit facilities in similar style locations. Whistler’s is, like the proposed P.G. site, adjacent to a Hydro substation, across from greenspace and residential area. The facility in Kamloops in bordered by a BMX park, and across from a residential neighbourhood.
Two City Councillors, Susan Scott and Jillian Merrick, were present for at least a portion of the meeting, One woman noted that Mayor Lyn Hall was quoted as saying he won the election to be Mayor “by inviting the public to the table to speak. Well, we’re here, where is he?”
B.C. Transit’s Levi Timmerman was asked what “plan B’ would be should Mayor and Council reject the proposal “Plan B is that we probably wouldn’t be able to proceed with a transit facility at this time” he then added “If we are unsuccessful, I would endeavour to find an alternate site.”