As the city finalizes several major land deals residents are asking how money could be used to expand municipal services and housing options.
Long-time Terrace real estate agent John Evans, who is also part owner of an independent property investment company, made a pitch to council July 14 that the city consider extending services beyond the current limits to provide water and sewer services to an 18-acre section of land he wants to develop for up to 87 homes.
Evans referred to the recent $11.8 million sale by the city of Skeena Industrial Development Park land to Chinese business interests as a sign that Terrace will continue to experience unnatural pressures on housing availability and pricing.
“It’s remarkable, but where are these people going to live,” said Evans of the city’s land sale deal and the plan by the Chinese interests to build an alfalfa protein extraction plant that would employ 170 people.
Evans and his partners received a notice from the city this winter that the zoning was going to be changed for their Halliwell property to the AR2 rural designation as part of the city’s ongoing zoning review, which meant his company still couldn’t go through with its plan for a high density subdivision.
To the south of the property, on McConnell Ave., the city has begun granting rezoning for high density residential purposes, however the treed land leading to Halliwell is some distance from that street and would require pipes to extend several hundred metres, through other properties, to link it to the current utility system.
In response to the presentation by Evans, the city has passed a motion to investigate the feasibility of extending the boundary of city services to an area beyond the current boundaries, however Evans and council did not see eye to eye on who would pay for the eventual engineering study necessary.
Evans argued that he needs the study done to attract investors, while the city said that they need to see investors interested before paying for the study.
“You say ‘give me the zoning bylaw and I’ll give you the sewer’,” said councillor Bruce Bidgood. “We [as a council] need to see a plan for the sewer before we give you the zoning bylaw.”
Director of development services David Block did say that putting in a central lift system for the water and sewer in the area could be part of a larger strategy to extend services west of Thomas St. to Kalum Lake Rd.
The motion passed by council, tabled by councillor Bruce Bidgood, was that “instruct development services to work with Evans to explore a lift system to help him and also future development along Halliwell.”
Councillor Stacey Tyers said she didn’t like the idea of making decision effecting the whole city based on the demands of a single company.
“I have concerns about working with just one person, because that seems like favouritism,” said Tyers.
Councillor Brian Downie asked Evans what land is still in the containment boundaries of the city services, to make sure that all of that was developed before expanding services outward.
Evans said that despite there being a modest land base of residential-zoned land in the city, much of it was owned by people who didn’t necessarily want to subdivide.
Block said there were still areas to be developed with residences that would be easier to service.