Sino Bright School is going to need the full 30 acres of land inside the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to construct its campus, according to school president Quan Ouyang.
Ouyang penned a letter to City of Powell River council on Tuesday, May 24, after it deferred support for the international school’s agricultural land commission (ALC) application to exclude a 30-acre parcel of land from the province’s agricultural land reserve (ALR).
A strip of land approximately six acres is considered fair-use agricultural land and was suggested to be kept in the ALR by city senior planner Jason Gow. Gow’s recommendations follow the provisions of the city’s Sustainable Official Community Plan (SOCP) to preserve agricultural land in the city.
Ouyang stated that the scope of the school’s plans have expanded during the past year and the six-acre exclusion would not work for the school’s building plans.
“Our company requires the full, 30-acre parcel,” he wrote.
With this information, city council is slated to make a decision on whether it supports the application as it stands at its Thursday, June 2, meeting.
Gow presented the report on the ALR exclusion at the Tuesday, May 17, committee of the whole meeting. His report recommended that council support the ALC application, less the six acres of fair agricultural land inside the 30-acre parcel.
After Gow’s report, council asked city staff to contact Sino Bright to inquire whether the school could continue with its plans if it did not have the full 30 acres.
“By keeping the six-acre parcel in the ALR,” wrote Ouyang in the response letter, “approximately one third of the property will be rendered useless and un-developable, and could cause further difficulties and delays in creating street access.” Developers planned to create street access for the school from Marine Avenue.
Sino Bright plans to purchase 132 acres of land next to Brooks Secondary School to construct an international school campus and dormitories. It needs 30 acres for its development, but that land is inside the ALR.
The land is currently owned by PRSC Land Developments, a partnership between the city and Tla’amin Nation. Sino Bright has an offer on the land and the deal is subject to it being developable.
Ouyang also wrote that the international school would have appreciated city staff contacting PRSC and Sino Bright prior to finalizing the report, to discuss the impact on the development.
If city council does not support the exclusion application, Sino Bright will withdraw its offer on the land, according to the letter.
Ouyang stated the international school would then concentrate its efforts on building its program in Vancouver, with School District 47’s cooperation, and wait until a time when land with suitable zoning opens up in Powell River, “which does not exist at this time, to our knowledge."