Friday, March 26, 2021

Any progress for proposed Mirco Hotel development for Park Avenue may all come down to timing of application

For a topic that wasn't on the Agenda, the discussion over a parcel of land along Park Avenue certainly dominated a lot of the conversation from Monday's Prince Rupert Council Session.

The discussion on the stretch of land one which overshadowed Council's review of some of their zoning plans as part of a release of data on the recent Bylaw/Zoning survey; as well as to adopt an amendment to create a new Special Housing zone related to supportive housing plans for the Raffles building at Five Corners

Starting from those two elements, the topic of land use ebbed and flowed around the Park Avenue area for a significant part of an hour of a two and a half hour Council Session.

The topic was of most note for Councillor Wade Niesh who was serving as Acting Mayor on Monday, with the Councillor making a few inquiries as to how the zoning plans that are in motion to be adopted later this Spring will impact on a current proposal that is apparently still working its way towards Council's attention.

A map of an area proposed for a Mirco Hotel as outliend
from the March 8th City Council agenda package

The area of interest for much of the discussion was a location where a proponent seemingly has plans to develop a Micro-Hotel, which would be located adjacent to the PJ's Market on Park Avenue.

As we outlined earlier this month, the original proposal for the new accommodation was pulled prior to a first look by Council back at their March 8th session, that as the proponent apparently looked to address some concerns from staff and to refine their planning for the proposed 120 room micro hotel project.

At the heart of the discussion, was what will be, if approved by Council,  a rezoning of the land in question later this spring to that of Residential. 

Something that would take it out of its current status of Commercial as the city looks to consolidate commercial activity in the downtown core area, and that's where the Monday night discussion heated up a bit.

With Mr. Niesh stating that he doesn't want to be driving away any business and noting how the project could be a partial solution to some of the city's current housing issues.

"I do feel that there is at every level of housing there is a need, and I think that a Travellers accommodation is just one more level of housing that will ease the pain ... I think if we want to see 2030 come to fruition, I think we need to have all levels of housing and I think a Travellers Accommodation is not a bad thing. 

It's just going to relieve pressure over other housing. And so my concern is that we pass this zoning bylaw and it eliminates someone's current zoning, which allows them to build something that we're already currently working on. And I don't want to be a closed for business council and I don't want to be turning down housing"-- Councillor Wade Niesh speaking on land use on Park at Monday's council session

Towards the topic, Councillor Blair Mirau asked for some guidance from the contract planners from iPlan Ltd. and whether Council would have a chance to discuss any application on its merits for the land in question, with iPlan's Rob Buchan charting the course ahead for Council. 

"If Council is of one mind on this now, or a majority of mind on this now, they should make a decision on this. If the bylaws go forward, the OCP and the zoning go forward as they are currently written, the micro hotel would not be a permitted use on that site. 

Now they could apply for a building permit before the bylaw is adopted and with that building permit they would be able to secure their ability to build and develop that land. 

That could be brought back to Council for a decision whether or not to withhold the building permit, Council would have a decision point at that point whether or not to allow it to proceed. 

But failing a decision now and failing a decision on a building  permit, the decision would be that they wouldn't be allowed to proceed." -- Rob Buchan from iPlan providing some background on zoning themes for Council

In a follow up comment, Councillor Mirau observed that he didn't think Council should be holding up it's wider ambitions for community development and their pursuit of the 2030 vision over one application

"I would much rather have that debate when that applicant comes for consideration I don't think we should be holding up a wholesale community wide zoning bylaw for the sake of one pending application ... 

In the worst case scenario that they don't file their building permits in time, if their application doesn't come back to Council's table in the time it takes us to go do the Public Hearing and get public engagement, then they can still come back to us for rezoning, if they require it " -- Councillor Blair Mirau

As more of the council members and Mr. Niesh took the discussion further down the rabbit hole, City Manager Robert Long raised a few concerns for the Council membership to consider. 

With the City Manager Speaking to the stream of discussion around the themes raised on the evening and how they might be a topic that is better served outside of the public Council session. 

Such was his apparent alarm at the turn of the conversation, that  the city's top bureaucrat made his points, not once, but twice, during the latter stages of the discussion.

"Excuse me Mr. Chairman, I mean we are clearly beyond a public discussion about policy, we are now talking about things which have legal ramifications for the corporation. If this is a discussion that Council wants to have we need to have it in camera, cause you are now affecting individuals as you just talk about. 

We've  gone through a very extensive process, we are at,  we are at close to the end of that process to go to a public hearing, etcetera, etcetera . If you don't want to do that ... but to not do that because of an application which is not before you at this time, based on a bunch of information that you are gathering from the community. That may, or may not affect somebody's rights, property rights, is a subject for an in camera discussion.

With Mr. Niesh determined to carry forward with the topic at hand, the ongoing conversation brought about the City Manager's second cautionary note of the session which would follow minutes later.

"Mr. Chairman, please talk about specific applicants ... you are implying  a particular application or not an application, you can't mix these things, based on what you've just said that will affect someone's rights"

As part of the background to the process underway, the city's contract planners, noted that the timeline for the required public hearings on the OCP and zoning Bylaw would be about a six week process ahead. 

Something which would take Council into May at the earliest before any changes to zoning would be in place permanently.

What appears to be the main takeaway from the near half hour of back and forth on the topic is that any plans for such a project as a Travellers Accommodation in that particular area of the city, may be on a short clock for any prospect of consideration by City Council.

Whether the proposed development comes back for further review, or if it disappears into the files of past buildings that never made it to the construction phase, is something that will no doubt make for some further discussion outside of the public council sessions. 

And if, or when it does return for consideration in front of the public, it will be catalogued through the upcoming Agenda pages for City Council.

You can review the full scope of the discussion starting at the 1 hour  55 minute mark of the Council video, the City Manager weighs into the discussion at the 2 hour 16 minute mark. 

For more notes related to Monday's Council Session see our Council Timeline Feature.

A wider overview of Council discussion themes can be explored here.


  1. Where is the rezoning notification to the citizens of the area. On 11th there was a sign placed with notice and information on the rezoning. I watched the council meeting and they speak of bylaw and zoning changes with no notification.

    Does this 2030 thing give the city the right to do what they want. Barry always asked "did you know of the zoning of adjacent properties when you bought?". Even if you did check how does one know what the city is doing now.

    1. there is no rezoning on this project

    2. You have a good point about the 2030 target (to do what exactly is not clear) and all other parts of Hays 2.0 for that matter. They're all "visions" or "policy objectives", and are really just political statements. They're not binding at all on the council's powers to vary the OCP and pass bylaw powers. Too often Hays 2.0 lingo is cited as some kind of higher authority, which it's not.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. your double standards are hyopocritical... wont allow anonymous comments to speak their mind but you have the freedom to.

      btw if i did start my own editorial it sure as heck* wouldnt be on blogger. its not 1999 anymore dude. step up. i can draw a few conclusions about who you are based on this platform. 1) too old to learn wordpress. 2) to tech unsavvy to improve presentation. 3) opbsesive compulsive enough to never change the format

    2. Well thanks for your critique and comments, as well as your apparent knowledge of who you think I am or what the blog is about ..

      You probably will find more happiness in reviewing the themes of local government found from the local paper, radio or TV station I imagine.

      As for your own editorial project if you ever get around to it, be sure to send me a link when you launch it and hey I might even give it a shout out, as superior a product as you profess it will be.

      As for your opening paragraph, feel free to write to me at the e mail I posted and we can exchange ideas on hypocrisy, double standards and such ...


  3. A word again about comments. If you've submitted something for one of our articles and have yet to see your profound observation included in the dialogue, then there's a very good chance you have run afoul of our process for consideration. You can review our guidelines for contributions at the bottom of our right hand column under the category of Comments and Questions about the Blog. If you believe we have not seen your view correctly, feel free to contact us at our email address of and we can exchange views, though we of course reserve the right to only accept comments that meet the guidelines noted. Short of that, you could always log onto Blogger and create your own forum of opinion and express your themes without fear of editorial control. Though libel and slander laws related to unsubstantiated accusations and a firm resolve not to accept foul language from contributors would make for a good guidepost for any aspiring blogger to follow!

    Thanks for your attention to this theme ... NCR

  4. I liked how Wade Niesh kept the discussion in the public meeting. He gave a clear response to Long's convoluted objection that "if you don't want to do that but to not do that because of an application that is not before you at this time". The application in question was not before the council and they were free to talk about any what ifs they wanted to. As Niesh pointed out, zoning decisions always affect peoples' rights. That in itself is not a reason for going into a closed meeting.