The City of Terrace is taking a new approach to bylaw and official community plan amendments associated with the inland port rail development proposed for the former Skeena Cellulose mill site on Keith Ave.
In July, city council passed first and second readings of an amendment to the Keith Estates Neighbourhood Concept Plan (KENCP), which is a subsection of the City’s official community plan that deals specifically with the former mill site.
At the same meeting, council also passed first and second readings of a bylaw amendment to rezone the northern portion of the mill site from light industrial to heavy industrial. These amendments were considered necessary for the proposed development to proceed.
Since then, the City and the project’s developer, Progressive Ventures, have received significant public feedback about the proposed amendments, leading City staff to propose a new approach at a committee of the whole meeting Oct. 9.
City staff proposed to separate the official community plan amendment process from the zoning bylaw amendment process. The KENCP, which was finalized in 2014, needs to be updated regardless of the proposed inland port development, said David Block, director of development services. He said the public discussion and feedback surrounding the inland port highlighted the need to review the KENCP.
“[Community] plans are typically reviewed every five years, or sooner, or maybe a little later, depending on capacity and changes in the community, depending on economic activity or whatever it might be, but we’re at that five, going on six-year time period,” he said. “I think we all know things are different than they were in 2014.”
Community plan amendments
City staff said they will present their proposed amendments to the KENCP for initial discussion at a future council meeting, likely Oct. 26. Following that, the City would then host an open house to provide information about the proposed changes — which would be beyond the City’s legal responsibilities, but necessary due to significant public interest in the KENCP, staff said. This open house would likely be virtual with limited spots for people to physically attend due to COVID-19 precautions.
Following the open house, the City would then hold its standard public input period, where the public would be invited to submit written feedback about the proposed KENCP changes. That would be followed by an official public hearing, slated tentatively for November. Then, council would make a decision about the proposed changes.
Zoning bylaw amendments
What City staff are drafting is a zoning bylaw amendment that would create a new type of heavy industrial zone, which could then be applied to the former mill site.
The new zone type would encapsulate industrial uses surrounding rail transport, and therefore would be compatible with the proposed inland port development, but it would restrict a number of activities that are permitted under the City’s existing heavy industrial zone.
Details about the new zone are limited as City staff are still working on a draft proposal, to be submitted at a future council meeting (no date has been announced).
Creation of the new zone would follow the typical bylaw amendment process, and if that proceeds, then the developer, Progressive Ventures, could apply to rezone the relevant portion of the former mill site to that new industrial zone.
The zoning bylaw amendment process would happen shortly after the community plan amendment process.
Councillors all approved of City staff’s proposed new direction and the proposed timelines. Several councillors expressed the general sentiment that they want to ensure all public feedback is fairly included in the process.