By Dave Pernarowski
We know that the city could be facing a significant population increase in the near future because of our location as the supply and services hub for the many planned industrial projects in the region.
And that means we need to take a look at our housing stock.
Although housing is a provincial government mandate, the city has undertaken a number of initiatives in the last few years to increase density and support new housing development.
In 2008, a housing task force was set up and in 2009, a housing needs assessment was completed.
When the housing task force completed their work, city council established a housing committee to assess the housing needs of Terrace residents on an ongoing basis.
The committee developed a housing action plan, which led to an update of the housing needs assessment this year and included a count of the homeless population in our community.
The committee also identified the need for more seniors housing – an additional five units are being built now.
In addition to the committee’s work, council has made a number of policy changes to increase density, create smaller lot residential zones and allow for secondary suites in all residential zones, among other things.
More recently, city council adopted a bylaw establishing a community amenity charge for industrial work camp accommodations that will eventually contribute to an affordable housing fund.
Housing is extremely important, but Terrace also needs to focus on the economic development and job creation opportunities that exist within our community.
The Skeena Industrial Development Park located just south of the Northwest Regional Airport, is our city’s biggest opportunity in terms of bringing long-term jobs and stable tax revenue.
The development of the park is a joint venture between the City of Terrace and the Kitselas First Nation and both of these communities will benefit from the tax revenue generated from future development on those lands.
Interest in these lands has increased 10-fold amid the influx of other development in the region.
The city has already sold 4.4 hectares of available lands to Global Dewatering Ltd., 66.7 hectares to the Kitselas Development Corporation and has a Memorandum of Understanding in place with the Qinhuangdao Economic and Technological Development Zone (QETDZ) for approximately 405 hectares. Progress is ongoing on the proposed QETDZ project and we anticipate that an agreement will be reached soon.
To support the new heavy industrial and manufacturing facilities at the park on the west side of Highway 37, the City of Terrace is planning a smaller-lot subdivision on the 116 hectares of park land on the east side of Highway 37 to make land available for light industrial and support businesses. The build out of the industrial park will create demand for more light industrial and commercial services and will generate significant new residential development.
As well, the city zoning bylaw is being reviewed and a planning exercise is in the works to develop a neighbourhood concept plan for a portion of the heavy and light industrial lands along Keith Avenue west of the Sande Overpass.
The exercise will help determine what future land use should look like in this area to ensure we can accommodate any anticipated growth – during the review of our Official Community Plan in 2011, the community told us that heavy industrial development was no longer the preferred use for this land.
We listened. The development of the neighbourhood concept plan is a three to four month process and will involve working with property owners, stakeholders and the community.
In truth, we don’t know every aspect of how the coming development will impact our community, but city council, with the support of our dedicated staff, is doing all that it can within its role as a local government to get ahead of the curve.
Now, perhaps more than ever before, it will be crucial that city council communicate how we’re meeting the opportunities and challenges we all face. It will be important for residents to engage with us so that we might chart a path for the future of Terrace together.
Dave Pernarowski is the mayor of Terrace, B.C.