by Stan Gisborne Brock Davidson of Southill Acres claimed in the April 20 Peak that because the Powell River Regional District (PRRD) planning committee changed a property designation from residential to industrial without “alerting neighbours,” the official community plan (OCP) is a “sham.” He claims that changing a map designation from residential to industrial will now allow an industry to locate on the property.
Davidson has confused OCP land use designations with land use zones in a zoning bylaw. Designating a property as residential in an OCP will not prevent a new industrial use, nor will it prevent expansion of an existing use, nor prevent borrowing or obtaining fire insurance. But a zoning bylaw would. Davidson doesn’t want an industry near his property, yet claims, “We don’t need zoning laws.”
The owner of the 14-acre lot between Stevenson Road and Southill Acres requested a redesignation from low density to industrial to recognize a planned concrete batch plant that is now operating. The PRRD planning committee designated half the lot as industrial and half as rural residential, as a buffer to Southill Acres.
The only control OCP land use designations have is during subdivision. The 14-acre lot can now be subdivided into two lots only, as rural residential designated lots must be at least five acres.
Rather than the “huge financial gain” claimed by Davidson, the redesignation reduces the property’s value, as fewer lots can be created. If all 14 acres were left as low density, up to nine lots could be created, as average lot sizes for low density in the existing OCP must be at least 1.5 acres. Without a zoning bylaw, a business or industry could locate on all nine lots regardless of designation.
If a zoning bylaw were adopted under the existing plan, the property would be zoned industrial regardless of designation as one of the policies states “all existing uses will be acknowledged.” However, if a zoning bylaw is adopted after the draft plan is adopted, an industrial use in a residential zone becomes legally non-conforming under section 911 of the Local Government Act. The industry is allowed to continue and can be sold. If destroyed by at least 75 per cent, future uses must conform to bylaw.
Without zoning there is more of a risk that a business or industry could locate near a residence. However, these businesses provide employment, needed services and pay nearly three times the tax rate of residential property. In fact there have been at least 60 jobs created in Area B since the 1993 plan was adopted. Every one of these new businesses or industries are located on property that was not designated as such in the existing OCP. For example, Augusta Recyclers Inc. and Hi-Ball Auto Recycling on Stevenson Road were both designated commercial in 1993. As they now have industrial use, they have been redesignated as heavy industrial in the draft plan.
This plan is still being revised. The public can request changes at the monthly planning meetings held at 4 pm on the third Tuesday of the month at the PRRD offices. After first and second readings of the bylaw, residents can still voice support or opposition at the required public hearing.
Stan Gisborne is Electoral Area B director on the Powell River Regional District board.