Monday, May 2, 2016

City moves forward with Land Use Policy Frameworks

Last week Mayor Brain reviewed
the new Land Use Policy plans
the city is looking to create 
City Council charted its course for Land Use issues last week revealing the background to ten weeks of committee work that prepare the City for potential growth and provide improved guidelines for developers looking to build in Prince Rupert.

Mayor Brain introduced the new Land Use vision by noting how the policy would reflect such issues as shadow population, affordable housing and other socio-economic effects related to major development, adding that the City hopes that the planning policy becomes a model for other communities.

After a lengthy overview and discussion that consumed over one hour of last Monday's two and half hour Council session, Council members moved forward with their plans for further consideration, adding a number of amendments to the policy planning process.

Some of the areas that will be explored through the process include: An urban containment Boundary policy, Residential Land Use Policy, Housing Strategy Policy, Parks and Open Space Policy, Industrial Camp Policy, Industrial Land Use policy and other policies in response to Major Projects.

Among some of the key items of note from the Mayor's presentation included the proposed creation of a cost charges and amenities bylaw plan, which is designed to ensure that developers pay a fair share to the city's infrastructure and amenities needs.

As well, developers that look to create multi use housing will see any new development of over three units assessed fees of 1,000 dollars through a Prince Rupert Housing Fund designed for the purpose of establishing grants for the construction of non-market (assisted/subsidized) housing.

As City Planner Zeno Krekic further explained, developers of work camps in the community would see the required fund fee increase to 2,000 dollars per bed, for any work camp developed in the city should major development arrive.

And while Councillor Cunningham offered up a concern that he didn't want to see the City lose a competitive edge by adding on to development costs, it was noted by the Mayor that other communities have cost charges and amenities bylaws in place an developers are experienced in dealing with such provisions.

Councillor Thorkelson found success when it came to her suggestion of a General Policy to ensure that developers adopt a green approach to their plans, however her desire to create a Density Bonus program for developers to spur on the creation of affordable housing units in the community did not gain final approval of Council, with a number of concerns expressed by Mayor Brain as to how it would work and whether the City has a role in that concept to creating affordable housing.

Parks and Placemaking are also featured prominently in the new policy, with the city expressing a desire to create new parks and open spaces that have high quality, unique and professional designs, towards those goals the City is looking to establishing a new Parks and Placemaking Committee to address those issues.

During the course of the discussion Council reviewed how it plans to address any potential work camps in the community, with six potential sites identified, with developers required to hook up their living spaces to the city services, providing for a new, flat serviced area for development once the camps are no longer in use.

The Mayor also reviewed some of the concepts that the City has in mind for expanded industrial land development in the city.

City Council has identified a number of areas of the City for future development
The City has identified six areas for potential work camps in the community
City Council outlined the areas of the city that could be considered
for future industrial development
Councillors Niesh, Thorkelson and Cunningham at times exchanged words related to the introduction of concerns at the late stages of the committee process, with Councillor Niesh noting that the review had been taking place over a period of ten weeks and that some of the last minute issues might have been better introduced earlier on.

Both Councillors Thorkelson and Cunningham took that issue head on, observing that discussing issues related to the policy is why they are on Council, a theme of back and forth that accounted for a good portion of the extended discussion, prior to the council vote to move the process forward.

The process ahead for the new Land use provisions will see amendments to the Quality of Life Official Community plan, with the integration of the new land use concepts to start later this year with a new Quality of Life Official Community plan process to be launched in 2017.

The City will provide a full overview of their planning elements to the city's website in the near future, allowing the public to review what they have in mind to carry the city's land use process into the future.

More background on the discussion related to the Land Use issues can be found on our City Council Timeline, while the full back and forth of the discussion can be found on the City's Video Archive starting at the 51 minute mark.

For more items related to Housing and Land development in Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

Further items related to Prince Rupert City Council can be found on our Council Archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

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