The City of Prince Rupert is continuing to purse the expansion of its boundaries, but has shifted the focus to a more long-term plan.
City planner Zeno Krekic provided an update on the boundary expansion at the Nov. 12 council meeting, and advised the process be done in stages and as needed as feedback continues to come in from stakeholders in the region.
“In a nutshell, those in favour are by-and-large quiet as this was shown to be quite a controversial topic, while those who are opposed to the expansion continue to be vocal in their opposition … it is a reasonable approach to take on this task incrementally and keep the big picture intention as a work in progress,” he said.
The first step in expanding the footprint of the city took place on Tuesday night as council voted to file paperwork with the Ministry of Community Services that would give them control over a piece of city-owned land across from Seal Cove.
“We, as a municipality, should be able to control the zoning and use on this property. Right now that control belongs to the regional district, but it should belong to the city,” said Coun. Anna Ashley, with Mayor Jack Mussallem noting the move would allow council to protect its watershed.
While groups including the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District and area First Nations have voiced concern about the expansion and its impact, Coun. Joy Torkelson said it is something that simply needs to happen for the city to grow.
“We need to have control of development around the harbour and around the municipality,” she said, adding expansion is just as much about taxation as it is control.
“I’m going to hurt feelings at the regional district, but it is not the regional district that is going to be providing services to the people coming here, it is going to be the City of Prince Rupert … [Port Edward] has the ability to grow the tax roll because they own such a large area while we own a much larger city but less land.”