Aerial map of Prince Rupert city zone 10, where Prince Rupert Port Authority applied for a temporary use permit to develop an overflow shipping container storage facility. City Council debated the matter on Aug. 24, 2020. (Map supplied)

PRPA denied temporary use permit by P.R. City Council

Prince Rupert Port Authority has plans to develop an overflow shipping container storage facility

A temporary use permit (TUP) application made by the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) was declined on Aug. 24, after much much discussion on policy and proper procedure by Prince Rupert City Council.

Prince Rupert Port Authority was seeking a TUP for the preparation of land to operate an off-dock, possible 24-hour, container storage facility on a 30 acre property located along Hiway 16/Park Ave. The property is located next to Fairview Terminal and would serve as an overflow location for empty, excess shipping containers.

The application was met with opposition from residential homeowners living in close proximity to the area. Spokesperson for the area residents, Richard Wright, posed their discord to council by presenting more than 75 to 100 signatures and letters. He cited noise, air pollution, traffic, large site lighting affecting overall quality of life and devaluing properties as concerns from the neighbourhood.

“The industrial component is a real concern for everybody … not just the west end, but on Pillsbury, Kootenay, lower end of Sloan and Cassiar, ” he said.

“You can gather the uncertainty and fear of the unknown … We just feel it is not the right place for this activity,” Wright said requesting council for more information and certainty for the residents.

Outlined in the application, PPRA has entered into an agreement of purchase and sale with the property owners Bryton Group, which is subject to a number of conditions, including a pre-sale two-year lease on the property.

The proposed purchase and sale raised questions regarding the ‘temporary’ use permit.

Temporary use permits are typically issued by the city for a period of six-months, with an additional six-month term allowable. PRPA was requesting the city to issue a two-year TUP, which would align with the lease agreement and the Fairview Expansion time-frame.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert Port Authority predicting record breaking years for the decade

“PRPA’s primary strategic interest is really based on land use planning in regard to this application. Our economic interest is secondary, although it is necessary to justify our potential investment in this project and in this property,” Ken Veldman, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for PRPA said.

“In the context of our long term strategic interests in the property, this idea of container storage is an activity that is a relatively new idea for us that is tied specifically to Fairview Expansion. That has really spurred our ability to reach a conditional agreement with the property owner. Fairview expansion is imminent, likely breaking ground before the end of this year,” Veldman said.

“Conceptually, what we are looking for here is short term certainties that we can move forward on a short term use during the expansion period. We are actively planning to look at mitigation of noise. Noise assessment is part of our due diligence.”

When asked by Councilor Barry Cunningham if the TUP was a precursor to permanent use, Veldman said, “Potentially but not necessarily”. Cunningham followed up with asking if the operations were going to run 24-hours a day.

“We’ve not got to the point where we can determine that. Obviously the business of Fairview terminal is 24-hours and optimally we would be able to maintain that. To a certain extent it depends on what impacts look like and what we need to do to mitigate,” Veldman said.

Before starting discussions on the issue Councillors Gurvinder Randhawa and Nick Adey both excused themselves due to conflicts of interest on the subject and left the remaining four councillors and mayor to come to a decision. After lengthy discussions it was agreed there was just not enough information on future land use and community impacts such as traffic and hiways.

Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven said it is important to have a proper process in place that collects all of the details and goes through appropriate channels to make sure the effects are mitigated and managed.

“I think a lot of concrete points in this process were made, but there is definitely a lot of missing pieces on the table here where we don’t know risk factors, they don’t have a detailed plan, there’s a ‘maybe’ here, a ‘maybe’ there, it might be six months, it might be two years,” Skelton-Morven said.

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Mayor Lee Brain explained a rezoning process would be a more appropriate avenue, as it allows a public input and four readings.

“Ultimately when you are in a rezoning process, that process is designed to allow enough comment and enough information for people to make informed decisions. Generally speaking, we do require and request detailed information on what a site is going to look like through a rezoning. I don’t think we have ever blanket rezoned a property without understanding what someone wants to do with that property,” Brain said.

“Our message to the Port is we are definitely wanting to work with you guys, but you have to understand that we are accountable to the residents of this community who we represent. That neighbourhood, in a very sure force and in a very short time has made it clear to us that they do not want us to proceed with a temporary use, and that they have a lot of questions still.”

“It is very engaged area, and ultimately there should be a public hearing on that property that allows a proper process for us to appropriately accommodate all the different view points and weigh the pros and cons of the economics versus the impacts to residents. I think it is more about the process and getting more information and a better understanding,” Brain said.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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