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Developers plan 7 cabins for rezoned Port Edward properties

Land on Spruce Ave. rezoned from residential to tourist/commerical
Sketch of the proposed cabin development on Spruce Ave. in Port Edward, B.C. (Photo: Facebook)

Port Edward District Council unanimously adopted a bylaw to rezone three lots on Spruce Ave. from residential to tourist commercial during their regular meeting on Jan. 10.

Rezoning was the final piece of the puzzle for Port Ed Holdings Ltd. to move ahead with the cabin development they proposed for lots 312, 316 and 328 Spruce Ave.

The day after they learned council passed their rezoning request, Clint Thompson, director at Port Ed Holdings said they had already set up a meeting with a modular builder.

Four to seven full-service cabins to accommodate tourists during peak season and to use as short-term rentals in the off-season are expected to be finished by the end of 2023.

Council’s decision came after a “heated” public hearing where people expressed support and opposition to the action, Clint said.

In addition to in-person responses, the district received 16 letters from community members and all but one of the letters were in support of the rezoning.

The letter writers who were in opposition are also homeowners on Spruce Ave. They wrote that maintaining residential zoning for the lots would better fulfill the community’s housing needs. The authors of the letters, Denise Beaudry and Dale Prest, also wrote of their fears that future developers may build a motel or hotel on the property if it becomes zoned for tourist commercial.

Clint and his wife Debbie spoke at the public hearing about why they chose to live in Port Edward and addressed some concerns they had heard from opposers of rezoning.

“We have every intention to adhere to all the bylaws and requirements asked of us, inclusive of lighting, noise, appropriate vegetation and curb appeal,” Debbie said.

“This means no fire pits, no tenting, no tarps and no RV’s. No sea cans, no motors on stands, no broken down cars with all the tires removed.”

She explained that her vision for the cabins is to attract tourists to Port Edward so they will fall in love with the community as she did. As well the intent is to provide housing for workers in the off-season.

Clint spoke of the upgrades he and his wife made to Kinnikinnick Campground and RV Park after taking it over in 2019.

The campground is located next to the lots on Spruce Ave., but it will be a separate business from the cabins, Clint told The Northern View. He said some people worried a new development would become an expansion of the campground.

There are a number of permitted uses under the tourist commercial zone, including campground, farmer’s market, hotel, motel, tourist accommodation use and tourist information. To ensure the properties are used for their intended purpose, though, the couple entered into an agreement with the district restricting them from using the land as a campground.

While Clint said the council’s decision to rezone the properties is gratifying after all of the work they have put into the project (including working on a building development plan on Christmas Day), it has taken a long time to get to this point.

The Thompsons submitted a similar application to council in 2019 and it was denied.

The last time the proposal was brought forward, staff recommended council not alter land designation from residential zoning until after a Housing Needs Assessment was complete, Elsie Lemke, interim chief executive officer at the district, wrote in a Dec. 2022 report to council.

“This report was completed in March, 2020 and three of the four main housing gaps identified were related to rental housing. [The Spruce Ave.] rezoning, along with the new rezoning application for a multi-family project on Alder Ave. start to address the recommendations related to housing and accessible affordable housing stock in Port Edward,” the report states.

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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Clint and Debbie Thompson requested rezoning of three properties on Spruce Ave. from residential to tourist commercial in order to develop seven cabins. (Photo: supplied)