Viewpoint: Old golf course lands zoned for industrial purposes

On November 27, 2018, Sino Bright Investments signed a contract of sale and purchase with Powell River Waterfront Development Corporation (PRWDC) for a proposed 10-acre parcel of land to be subdivided from the 80 acres commonly called the “old golf club lands in the Townsite.”

The buyer’s obligation to complete the purchase was conditional upon the lands being subdivided by PRWDC to the buyer’s satisfaction and registered with the land titles office by August 31, 2019.

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The buyer’s obligation to complete the purchase was also conditional upon PRWDC applying to the city for the rezoning of the 10-acre property from the current M3 Industrial zoning to a zoning acceptable to the buyer for its intended use of the property. No completion date for rezoning was identified.

Two very important provisions were not included in the sale-purchase agreement.

First, parties to the agreement failed to acknowledge that under a May 3, 2013, partnering agreement between the city and PRWDC, PRWDC was prohibited from making such a binding agreement with Sino Bright without city council’s acceptance of its terms and conditions.

Secondly, any attempt by the city to legitimately rezone the 10-acre parcel would require the BC Lieutenant Governor in Council to amend the Fourth Schedule (Section 21) of the March 15, 1955, Powell River District Incorporation Act to modify the current boundaries of the “Mill-site area” as defined in its Fourth Schedule, (Section 21).

At Section 21 of the city’s incorporation act we find: “Mill-site area permanently zoned for industrial purposes.”

The city does recognize supremacy of the Section 21 zoning over its zoning bylaws and that these Mill-site-area-described lands were permanently zoned for industrial purposes by the provincial government.

Mayor Formosa, city CAO Russell Brewer and councillors Maggie Hathaway and Jim Palm were aware of this when at the September 4, 2014, council meeting, they and the rest of council voted in favour of the following resolution in an attempt to have these very same “old golf course lands” excluded from the Section 21 Mill-site designation: “Be it resolved that the city request the BC Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations to amend the Fourth Schedule (Section 21) of the Powell River District Incorporation Act to modify the ‘Description of the Proposed Boundaries of the Mill-Site Area’ from the current boundaries shown in Appendix 1 attached here to and forming part of this resolution, to the revised boundaries shown in Appendix 11, attached hereto and forming part of this resolution, so that those lands no longer owned nor used by the entity known as ‘Catalyst Paper Corporation’ are excluded from the Mill-Site Area.”

Council’s above efforts were unsuccessful and all 80 acres of “old golf course lands” remain within the designated “Mill-site area” permanently zoned for industrial purposes.

Did PRWDC and or city officials advise Sino Bright Investments of the ramifications of Section 21 and the permanent industrial zoning designation of these lands? Clearly, the placement of dormitories and or a private school on these industrial lands would not be in compliance with the city’s Incorporation Act of 1955.

George Orchiston is a Powell River resident.

Copyright © Powell River Peak


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