Work camps

Work camps

Rupert ‘open for business’ as council passes major growth guidelines

The City of Prince Rupert mayor and council passed the Interim Land Use Policy Framework during April 25’s council meeting

It’s a plan to plan ahead.

The City of Prince Rupert mayor and council passed the Interim Land Use Policy Framework during April 25’s council meeting, which provides an update to the city’s policies of residential land use, industrial land use, major projects camps, housing strategies and parks and open spaces.

Determining that the present Official Community Plan (OCP) and development policy frameworks presented before potential developers in Prince Rupert was not satisfactory and no longer represented the shifting economic climate and growth the city is experiencing, the Interim Land Use Policy Framework is an exercise in certainty for both the city and developers and provides input on what the city’s priorities are when engaging with developers looking to build in Prince Rupert.

“These proposed policies are designed for the community to benefit from proposed major economic projects, while protecting our unique urban and social fabric. Whether some of the proposed major projects proceed or not, this suite of policies will ensure a smoother development process that creates greater certainty for the development community as well as council … These policies were created to ensure that the City of Prince Rupert and its residents can handle increased shadow population, affordable housing and various other socio-economic impacts. Ultimately, the City of Prince Rupert wants to become a model over how to handle major growth correctly,” said Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain.

Included in the framework are a number of sites within an “urban containment boundary” to encourage that development happens within the unique townsite plan that is established today.

Everything from green lands development, to residential, to industrial camp sites, to heavy industrial sites have been examined and identified.

“The [Planning for Major Projects] committee is recommending a residential clustering policy to ensure that new multi-family or mixed use developments on over one acre of land will be required to incorporate various designs and densities to ensure a high quality of life in any new or existing neighbourhoods,” said Brain, adding that the city is also implementing an amenities and development cost charges bylaw “to ensure that developers pay their fair share to the city’s infrastructure and amenity needs.”

A new Prince Rupert Housing Fund is also being established to collect fees per unit on new developments of over three units for the purpose of establishing grants for non-market housing. This policy was questioned by Coun. Barry Cunningham, who asked if it would scare developers away to Port Edward, to which city planner Zeno Krekic responded that developers will have a chance to give feedback on the process. Brain also added that many communities in B.C. already have these funds attached to development and it is something that many developers are already used to – Prince Rupert is just getting on par.

Development projects consisting of three or more units will have a non-market housing fee of $1,000 per unit and $2,000 per bed for any industrial camps or workers’ housing projects.

Future temporary work camps that are set up would be required to have municipal road and utility services to the site, for the purpose of future use as a flat and serviced area once the camp has been shut down for future industrial development.

A Parks and Placemaking committee will be organized to plan and create parks and open spaces that have “unique and professional designs that encourage social interaction of its users” and major development must be accompanied with new public spaces to retain the character of the community.

The City of Prince Rupert has also included in the plans, population surveys conducted every two years while major projects (new industrial projects with a capital expenditure in excess of $250 million) are being proposed in the region. The city will collect monthly records of market and non-market rental vacancies and will maintain an inventory of the number and type of units/beds contained in industrial camps within municipal boundaries and the region in order to be able to show model shadow population.

“We believe these policies will bring the city’s planning process into the 21st Century. We believe it will also map out a forward-thinking, clear path for development that ensures we all benefit from economic growth, while protecting our community’s character. The next step will be to amend the Quality of Life Official Community Plan to integrate these policies this year,” said Brain.

“This policy agreement goes a long way to breaking down the reputation that Prince Rupert has as being closed for business,” added Coun. Blair Mirau.

The policy document was passed by all members of council.