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Staff to organize zoning sessions

Gatherings provide opportunity for residents to ask questions and express concerns

Powell River Regional District staff will be organizing a series of workshops in Areas B and C to discuss companion zoning.

Now that the official community plans (OCP) for Area B and Area C have been adopted, staff have recommended holding small, intimate workshops to build an understanding of how companion zoning could protect individual and community interests and to determine if there may be support from local residents to develop land-use bylaws.

The proposal is to divide the areas based roughly on neighbourhoods and/or watersheds or community water systems to consult with all residents, explained Laura Roddan, manager of planning, at the April planning committee meeting. The workshops would provide information about what zoning is and what it isn’t, Roddan said. “Some people say they want zoning, but they think it’s going to do something that it can’t do,” she said. “Some people don’t want zoning because they think it’s going to do something that it’s not going to do.”

The workshops will allow staff to respond to residents’ concerns and questions, Roddan added, as well as building support for moving forward with companion zoning. “If we do that, we can provide a higher level of land-use planning service to residents,” she said.

In 2012, a draft zoning bylaw for Traffe Road, in Area B, had been prepared, in response to residents’ concerns about a community care facility in the neighbourhood. Although a public hearing was held about the bylaw, directors voted in September 2012 to defer further consideration of the bylaw until after the Area B OCP was adopted. Roddan suggested deferring the draft Traffe Road zoning bylaw until after the small neighbourhood meetings, but directors did not support that recommendation. They directed staff to revise the draft zoning bylaw to reflect any new Area B OCP provisions and feedback from the public hearing. The draft bylaw will be taken to a public information meeting.

After much discussion, directors also passed a motion directing staff to organize a series of small neighbourhood-based workshops with residents of Areas B and C.

Stan Gisborne, Area B director, said he doesn’t support zoning for the entire area.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate and I don’t think it’s needed with the level of development that’s happening south of town,” he said. “It’s pretty stagnant.”

There have been few land-use conflicts in the last 25 years, Gisborne added. “You can count them on one hand.”

For some of those conflicts, the regional district didn’t have any jurisdiction, Gisborne added. He used as examples a gravel pit at the end of Stevenson Road and the community care facility on Traffe.

When there are complaints, Gisborne said, he usually talks to people and reaches a compromise. For example, recently he received a complaint about a resident cutting shingles in his yard. “His neighbour complained because he was doing it on Sunday morning,” he said. Gisborne talked to the property owner and suggested he move his work to the other side of his property, away from neighbours. The resident did that and he stopped operating on the weekends, Gisborne said.

Gisborne also named a number of businesses that would not be operating if there was zoning based on the old OCP, including the waste transfer station, a woodworking shop, a body shop and auto repair business. All of those are on properties that were not designated for that use in the OCP, he added. “We’re talking up to 100 jobs,” he said. “If you had zoning, you wouldn’t have them.” Zoning prevents a lot of businesses from locating in the area, Gisborne also said.

However, in high-density areas where there are smaller lots, there is justification for some zoning, he said, to control density and land use. “But for larger lots, anything over five acres, I don’t see the justification for it or the benefits of it,” he said.

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