Kitimat council discusses PTI proposal at zoning bylaw second reading

Kitimat councillors discussed parking spaces and strategy at the May 21 council meeting.

Up to now, second reading had taken place for an OCP [official community plan] and zoning amendment bylaw which, if eventually passed, would allow the PTI Group to construct their proposed workforce lodge.

The District of Kitimat planning department and the PTI Group have worked together since first reading, and the company has requested some amendments to the draft, including changes to the required number of parking stalls to contributions the company would have to give for later legacy projects.

Councillors discussed the number of parking spaces and the overall strategy that has been used to bring this project forward.

The process from here requires a third reading then final adoption of the bylaw. A gap of a number of days is required between third reading and adoption of a bylaw, and changes are able to be made at any stage before adoption.

Phil Germuth on the topic of parking spaces said that if the District administration had their suggested two parking spaces for every 10 beds, that would mean only 421 parking spots. With 200 employees, and bus spaces taking up the equivalent of another 100, he wasn’t happy to see only 121 spaces remaining.

He said that it would be a disservice to the community by not making those parking spaces available, and therefore a way to store and use a vehicle to get around town.

Staff proposed an alternative to their suggestion, seeking a middle ground to PTI Group’s own request of just one parking space per 10 beds (as well as bicycle parking), and suggested a two parking stall per bed model, but one parking space can be reduced per bike parking made available, and that there is bus parking enough for one bus per 85 beds.

Meanwhile other proposals within the bylaw would require PTI Group to pay a set fee per bed in their complex, which would be saved in an affordable housing fund.

Director of Planning and Development Gwen Sewell said that while the District of Kitimat may not directly eventually construct an affordable housing facility themselves, the money collected would be used as a contribution towards such a project in the future.

It is currently suggested that the rate by $500 per bed be used, as beds come into operational.

If the lodge sees a peak at 2,100 beds, that would then mean $1,050,000 contributed.

But the whole process has still rubbed Germuth the wrong way, who thinks the zoning work being done is not the way to approach this project.

“I’m still not happy with how we’re zoning this as a residential,” he said, saying that they should be looking at manufacture zoning. He said PTI had initially been looking at manufacturing zoning lands on the industrial side of the Kitimat River when they first showed interest in the town.

“I still think there is a way through a temporary use permit so we can still call it what it is, zone it for what it is and having that land revert back after their gone back to residential,” he said.

His plan is to use temporary use permits to be able to revisit the facility in about five years and be able to gauge its impact on the community by then and let landowners say if PTI is working out for them as neighbours.

Councillor Mary Murphy however noted that staff are following the instruction of council, as they have given direction to open up zoning discussions with proponents.

She also added that PTI Group has openly advertised job opportunities for the proposed facility.

Tonight, the District of Kitimat is hosting a public hearing on these possible zoning and OCP changes at the Riverlodge community room, at 7 p.m.