Thursday, November 27, 2014

Council pushes ahead with Work Camp plans for Wantage Road, despite rough reception at Public Hearing

Overview of Land under
consideration for work camp
and lay down area off Wantage Rd
A few weeks back, when City Manager Robert Long first reviewed the plan to turn the old Garbage Dump on Wantage Road into a work camp site, the project was described by city staff as something that was thinking that was a little out of the box.

Highlighting the possibility for the City to make use of land currently not developed and in return, take advantage of an opportunity to re-purpose the area in ten to twenty years for other civic uses.

During Monday's Public Hearing into the zoning aspects of that proposal, a meeting held prior to Monday's City Council session, a number of residents reviewed the City's plans.

Offering up comments and observations on the topic, and providing for a perception that suggests that for them, perhaps the idea was one that the City might want to put it back in the box.

However, while Council listened carefully to many of the concerns of the eight residents who took to the microphone on Monday, when the time came to vote on the zoning proposal later in the Council session, Prince Rupert City Council decided to move forward on the proposal anyways.

To get to that decision required the input from the public through that Public Hearing, one which featured a presentation from the City Planner, Zeno Krekic.

As part of his review, he outlined the City's view of the project, making mention that the Public Hearing was but one phase of the proposal, with much of the discussion to come on issues related to the proposal would be addressed during the Development Permit process still ahead.

Mr. Krekic's observations were followed by a presentation from the representatives of Horizon North, the proponents of the work camp project.

They offered up a snapshot of what they have in mind for the Wantage Road project, which would call for Two main housing units, designed to hold 1,250 person each, with the camp site to be used to accommodate the work force for any LNG projects that may arrive on the North Coast.

To give Council a bit of an idea as to what their camps offer, they described the facility as along the lines of a four star hotel, with fitness, recreation and food services, as well as facility management and Security.

Proposed work camp development
for Wantage Road area

Overview shot of one of Horizon North's existing
work camps sites
taken from the company website

To address concerns over camp activities, the proponents advised that the Wantage Road project would be designated as a Dry Camp, with zero tolerance for alcohol.

Council members the asked a number of questions of the camp proponents, seeking more details on the camp project itself, as well as the proposed lay down area to be located at the old Trailer Park site on Wantage road.

As part of the question and answer session, Council members made inquiries regarding such issues as noise, safety, traffic, resident containment and access to Wantage road by the public seeking recreation activities in the area.

Council members also explored what kind of employment opportunities would be made available to local residents as part of any camp site development, as well as to what kind of training local residents could expect to access should the project move forward.

Following the line of questioning from the Councillors and Mayor, the public was invited to participate in the hearing, providing their own observations and questions regarding the proposal.

The eight participants provided for a mix of those living in the Haysvale Community adjacent to the proposed camp site, as well as others in city who had concerns over the larger social issues of the camp proposal.

For many, key concerns involved the issues of noise, traffic and the proximity of a large work camp being located so close to the urban area of the city. As well participants had questions and observations when it came to the environmental impact that the development may bring, as well as access to recreation options beyond the camp site in the Mount Hays area.

Some had concerns over the potential added costs to the City in the way of Police, Fire and other services, while residents of Haysvale in particular expressed their worry over the potential effect on the property values in the immediate area.

One submission to the Public Hearing phase came from the School District. With the District's Cam McIntyre providing a number of items for review for Council related to their research on camp developments in other communities.

As well, Mr. McIntyre provided a review of some of the concerns that the School District had in relation to the camps proximity to some of the schools in the city.

Once the public hearing process came to an end, Council would then revisit the topic as part of their Consideration of Amendments to the Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw provisions.

During that portion of the discussion, all of those Council members in attendance spoke in favour of the proposal, voting to re-zone the land in question.

As part of their review of the process, many highlighting the potential opportunities to the city that developing the site may offer should the proposal move forward. Adding that many of the issues outlined by the public could be addressed as the project moves forward.

For her part, Councillor Joy Thorkelson also addressed what she described as the vilification of camp workers, reminding Council that many of those that work in camps are there to do just that work and that some of the fears outlined in during the course of the public hearing were doing a dis-service to those that work in the camps.

The final comment on the proposal came from Councillor Cunningham who observed that Council was going around in circles on the issue, with the topic of the night mainly one to re-zone the land in question.

Further issues related to the project can be examined during the development permit process which will follow in the weeks and months to come.

For a full account of the Public Hearing and subsequent Zoning discussion as part of the City Council session of Monday see our City Council Timeline here.

You can learn more about what the Horizon North Camp concept offers other communities, from the company website here.

More background on the City's proposal can be found from the Agenda package of Monday's session, the subject of the Wantage Road proposal can be found from pages 22 to 47.

You can also view both the Public Hearing and the Zoning discussion from the City's Video Archive,
the Public Hearing runs from the 9 minute mark to the one hour twenty minute mark.

While the Zoning issue is up for discussion starting at the one hour thirty one minute mark through to the two hour five minute mark.

The video player can be found below.


For more items related to developments at Prince Rupert City Council see our Archive page here.

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