Council suspends land sales

Lynsey Kitching

 

It’s time to take inventory and outline exactly what Tumbler Ridge needs in terms of housing. For this reason at the last policies and priorities meeting Barry Elliott, Chief Administrative Officer for the District announced that last week, all district owned property has been pulled from the website and sales on district lands have been temporarily suspended.

“Primarily because we need to update the appraisals; this was in the budget this year. That is happening over the course of the next couple weeks. I know council has had a discussion about marketing,” says Elliott.

The discussions about marketing land for development in Tumbler Ridge are still preliminary; however the ball is now rolling.

Councillor Caisley says, “Part of the conversation in terms of marketing land is we were going to proceed along the line that council assess what requirements we have and what we want to see done in terms of apartments, single dwellings, duplexes, you name it. Instead of sending out just a general RFP, and having those numbers coming in to indicate to us what they are going to do with the land, we thought it would be prudent to get to the stage where we don’t need this and this, but we do need these three options over here. That is what we are trying to market.”

He continues, “At some point in time, as a council we should be sitting down and coming up with the answers to those questions, an RFP we send out will not only have the blessing of council, but we will also be getting the kind of development we want to see in Tumbler Ridge, rather than leaving it wide open.”

The first step to this process was to go over the Official Community Plan (OCP), which was completed last year. Now, the process needs to narrow in on what type of housing will be going into the designated areas.

“The OCP is fairly broad with zoning bylaws. Within those individual zones you’ve already identified a number of things. The understanding I have is council wants to take that to the next level and really define what you want to see in the zones. For instance, if it’s residential you may not need single family detached homes. You may feel apartments are the way to go. But you haven’t had that kind of discussion yet nor do you have the background to give you information to work with. This discussion is preliminary. You may have to rezone, of course that is a public process,” says Elliott.

Mayor Wren thinks this is a process that will take some time. He says, “It is an ambitious undertaking. I don’t believe it is something we will be able to do justice at a P&P. It is probably a standalone working day. The staff is going to have to go back and put together the information that exists within the work Urban Systems has done and bring forward some reports so council can sit down. I suspect this will take a significant amount of time, but I agree this should be done sooner than later.”

Having a firm plan for marketing development in town is also important because some of the land is being held up for development. Councillor Mackay says, “It is a big issue, speculators that are holding up land with no intention to build on it, just holding it up. I know we’ve made a lot of good strides in the changes we’ve made; there is definitely a long way to go.”