Hold on, says regional district

The Kitimat-Stikine regional district wants the province to hold off on selling crown land until it reviews its decades-old land use plan

The Kitimat-Stikine regional district wants the province to freeze the sale of crown land in Thornhill until it’s had a chance to review its land use plan.

The plan hasn’t been reviewed since the early 1980s but with pressure growing for residential lots, regional district officials say they want a better understanding of development potential.

It’s why the regional district board abstained, for the time being, from supporting a local developer’s application for a direct crown land sale from the province.

“It wasn’t anything specifically against the application, but more of a … hold on, let’s do some forward planning before the crown sells it,” said regional district planner Ted Pellegrino last week.

The regional district now wants to look at how the land uses have changed, what the community needs, and what impacts development would have on water and sewer systems.

The specific motion, which passed as recommended by the regional district’s planning committee April 25, dealt with the application by M&M Ventures to purchase and develop the 98-acre crown land parcel which runs alongside the Thornhill frontage road.

Plans filed by the local company envision as many as 124 residential lots being placed on the property, phased in 30 at a time until 2020.

A second development company has also applied to develop the land into a residential subdivision. That company’s identity wasn’t immediately available from the provincial lands ministry.

“It’s a large piece of property that’s under application and some land uses have changed over the years,” said Pellegrino, of the property. “There’s also potential to use part of it for something besides residential and how that would transition to the residential use and the existing residential neighbourhood.”

There have been some zoning changes to the neighbourhood since the community plan was completed, explained Pellegrino, noting the light industrial zoned parcel next door, which was rezoned in order to address a proposal by Lomak Transport to build a truck shop on the site.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of consideration because at that time there wasn’t any other proposals on that land,” he said. “Now that you’ve got this industrial zoned property next door and we’ve got a proposal for development on the neighbouring lands, then we need to look at it in the context of what the best use is and what’s happened since the community plan was done in terms of how is that area developed.”

The review, which will include community consultations, is expected to take about a year and deal mainly with vacant crown land parcels in the Thornhill area, said Pellegrino.

Consideration will be given to what the community needs in terms of walking trails, bike paths and green space, potentially using the information collected during the Active Transportation Plan consultations which took place over the last year.

The other key aspect of the review will be looking at servicing needs on those lands and the regional district’s ability to provide those services (think: community water, community sewer).

“It would have an impact on our infrastructure depending on what the proposed use was,” he said. “We don’t have a community sewer in that area, some areas wouldn’t have a main water line running through…”

And while developers could install infrastructure “the regional district is still the one who has to deal with it at the other end,” he said. “For example, it’s our water wells that would supply it. The developer would put in the main line but do we have sufficient capacity in our water system to provide what they need?”