City OCP public hearing set
By Nowell Berg
On January 22, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kent Goodwin, Albert Hoglund, Nigel Kitto, Bev Middlebrook and Darryl Oakley were present along with Mayor Don McCormick. Councillor Sandra Roberts was absent.
Official Community Plan (OCP) Public Hearing Set
The OCP Public Hearing will be on Monday, February 19 at 7 p.m. at McKim School Theatre (689 Rotary Drive).
Troy Pollock, Manager, Planning Services, presented a report and OCP over-view to council and residents in the packed city hall gallery.
While the issue of development on the Marysville Benchlands has received the most publicity, Pollock’s report notes the key policy direction of the OCP is to “prioritize infill development and redevelopment in areas with infrastructure capacity.”
Pollock also said, “increasing the amount of land for industrial and commercial purposes” was an OCP objective along with increasing the amount of land for “parks, recreation and open space.”
His report also noted the “significant amount of correspondence relating to the Marysville Benchlands.”
The majority of this correspondence is “opposed” to the OCP designating a portion of the Benchlands for industrial development. The proposed industrial development lands would “exclude the perimetre (Volksmarch) trail, hillsides and other portions not suitable for development.”
Only the “upper bench lands” located along Jim Ogilvie Way would be designated for possible future development.
Pollock said council has the “ultimate authority to influence the design, layout, form and character of any future development of the Benchlands.”
Coun. Oakley asked Pollock whether Teck was undertaking any “reclamation” of the former mine site and how long it may take, if at all, before that land would be ready for possible industrial development?
Pollock said there was “constant reclamation” being done by Teck and it would be “hard to tell” when they may be ready, possibly “five to 10 years.”
Coun. Hogland said it was “out there” that residents were not involved in the OCP process.
Pollock replied, “Public input is ongoing, we have had many public meetings and surveys.” The council report notes “over 1,400 participants, responses and submissions were involved and considered in the [OCP] review.”
Hoglund asked if there were any Teck lands “not contaminated” that could be “carved off” for industrial development purposes.
Pollock replied the Teck land is part of the OCP map, but “Teck is not willing to designate specific parcels.”
At this point, Mayor McCormick stepped in to say there were “ongoing conversations” with Teck regarding the land east of Jim Ogilvie Way. He went on to make several points about the Teck land in terms of ownership and who would develop the land. He indicated it would not be the city. Further, any re-zoning of Teck land would require a Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental study, which is expensive and takes considerable time.
In the end, the Mayor said, “It’s not as simple as saying put it there,” meaning industrial development on Teck land.
Coun. Middlebrook asked Pollock about the fertilizer plant and offices on Teck land and how they can be used.
Noting Teck owned the land, Pollock said they had the right to use the existing buildings.
Adding to that, Mayor McCormick said, “The existing [Teck] buildings are grandfathered.”
With that, the vote was taken. Council unanimously voted in favour of the motion.
Fear on the Bench
In an interview after the council meeting regarding the Benchlands and some Marysville residents’ opposition, Mayor McCormick said, “It’s more than $100,000 we have invested over the past 10 years in trying to get our environmental certification that would allow some form of use up there [Benchlands].”
Currently, the Benchland is a “brown field” where no development will occur before completion of environmental certification.
McCormick added, “Nothing is going to happen in the short term.” His best estimate: “At least two to three years down the road before anything could happen.” It could be much longer.
Responding to critics demands for specific details about any Benchland development, McCormick said, “The OCP is the highest level guideline for land use; there are no specifics around it. It’s a recommendation for land use.” Details of any development are presented by potential developers at the permit stages.
“Until the zoning goes through to specify land use you can’t use that land [Benchlands] for anything,” said McCormick.
After zoning the Benchlands, if businesses or developers showed any interest in the land they would need to apply for a Development Permit where “planning and council have complete control over what type of development goes in.”
Subsequently, “At the building permit stage we have a very high degree of control over the type of business, all of the details surrounding it so the integrity of the land stays in place,” said McCormick.
The detail critics are demanding is only found in a Development and Building Permit and “is not seen at the OCP level.”
McCormick recognizes there is a lot of “fear” about the future of the Benchlands. He believes the fear is based on “not wanting to understand the whole OCP process.” This has placed the OCP “in a conflict situation” where it appears the goals of the dissenters and the city “are inconsistent or incompatible.”
He sees the goals of the dissenting group and the city being compatible “over the long-term. It’s not easy to see that right now” because its unclear what the Benchland is “going to look like long-term. Whatever it’s going to look like, it’s not going to be at the detriment of the community, that’s for sure.”
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly. All meetings start at 7 p.m. and are open to the public. Check the city’s website here and select the date for the meeting agenda.
The next regular council meeting will be on February 13.
It’s your city, get involved.
Lead image: Jim Ogilvie Way running over the Marysville Benchland. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo