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Powell River Council asks for staff report on city-owned land

Standing committee recommendations on utilization for two properties require more research
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: City of Powell River Council considered two motions regarding city-owned properties that could lead to sales of the lands, such as this one referred to as property 23 in a consultant’s report, but decided to refer the two recommendations to staff for a report. This property is on Ontario Avenue, located next to the Penticton Trails, and the other property is on Tofino Street.

City of Powell River Council is referring recommendations on two city-owned properties to staff for a report.

At the June 6 city council meeting, mayor Ron Woznow said there were recommendations regarding two city-owned properties coming out of a standing committee on city-owned land utilization meeting on April 22.

“It is an opportunity to generate revenue for the city,” said Woznow. “Currently, we have about 160 city-owned properties that generate no revenue and add to the expense of maintaining and keeping those properties.

“When our committee looked at this, we looked at what consultants had suggested regarding these two properties. We went out and did a walking tour of the two properties and decided upon two motions that would add significant value, long term, to the city, both in terms of creating housing and also for generating revenue for the city.”

Woznow brought up what is known as property 23 in a consultant’s report called the land management strategy, located on Ontario Avenue, which is a 51.14-acre (20.7-hectare) property. He said the property is designated as agricultural land in the city’s official community plan (OCP), although it is not in the agricultural land reserve.

“When we looked at that property, Al Austin and John Spick, who have considerable experience in developing properties, suggested that the property is ideally set up to have two classifications,” said Woznow. “The area which is directly across from the housing development [on Ontario Avenue] could simply be designated for 17 lots and then the remaining land could stay as agricultural.”

Woznow said the property is adjacent to the Penticton Trails, an ideal location for families, and an opportunity for young people to explore in their backyards the nature aspect. He said the first step would be later this year, when the city is looking at the OCP, to consider designating the lower portion in order to allow a subsequent discussion on whether it should be developed for housing.

Wants report

Councillor Cindy Elliott said it would be good to refer the matter to the select committee on properties, which also is looking at the same package of properties.

“I would prefer to have it referred to our committee of the whole, where council members can have the opportunity to have a fulsome report, with the information around the recommendations prior to making decisions,” said Elliott.

Woznow made a motion that council direct staff to change the OCP designation of property 23, identified in the land management strategy as Future Nootka Neighbourhood, in multiple phases, starting with making the west side of the property consistent with the neighbouring properties to the west, when the city’s OCP is updated.

Councillor George Doubt said he was not comfortable with changing the OCP without a detailed staff report. He said it was also important for the public to have a consultation.

“I know there is considerable public interest in what happens to the Penticton Trails property,” said Doubt.

Councillor Rob Southcott said that single residential zoning is falling out of favour across the continent and the unsustainability is further understood.

“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to expect that in a rewrite of the OCP, we will simply duplicate the designation of that land from the way it was developed in the previous generation,” said Southcott. “My fundamental reservation is that we don't use the precious resource of our planning department to deviate that resource from the larger work of the rewrite of the OCP.”

Councillor Jim Palm said the city is running out of land and places for developers to build. He added that the city has a financial conundrum which needs to be addressed.

“Because of those two reasons, the mayor is being proactive to try to help both of those situations,” said Palm. “I’m fully supportive of getting the ball rolling on these two pieces of property.”

Elliott said her inclination would be to put the matter to committee of the whole to give council the ability to ask questions and learn more about the impacts of the motion. She moved to refer the recommendations to the select committee on city-owned lands to receive input from that committee. The motion carried.

Tofino talk

Woznow then brought up a second recommendation from the committee, that council direct staff to determine that servicing is possible, and identify service routes, location and capacity of current servicing for property 24, identified in the 2021 land management strategy as Future Tofino Neighbourhood, and subsequently prepare a tender document for the sale or lease of the property. Property 24 is a 20.47-acre (8.28-hectare) on Tofino Street. The property is currently zoned as R1.

Elliott moved an amendment to the motion that council direct staff to write a report to inform council about how to attend to the recommendations, such as cost, and then process that as it follows, so council can be better informed before making a decision. Doubt suggested defeating Elliott’s amendment and making a new motion to refer the matter to planning department staff to explain costs and benefits.

Council carried a motion to refer the motions to planning staff to report back to council.

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