By a wide margin, Kitimat Council has approved zoning changes that will allow the PTI Group to build their proposed work lodge at Strawberry Meadows.
With one councillor absent, Corinne Scott, the vote passed in favour 5-1, with Phil Germuth the sole remaining opponent to the changes.
Mayor Joanne Monaghan said that her phone lit up in the days following from prospective businesses, who had been hesitant to commit to Kitimat before knowing whether PTI Group would get a pass. She didn’t disclose what those businesses were.
Monaghan also said she was sure that PTI Group would have set up quickly in Terrace if Kitimat rejected the plan, and believed they would have done so in a more streamlined manner than was done in town. She had heard unofficially that Terrace would have accepted PTI with “open arms,” she said.
She outlined the various benefits the project would have to the community, including easing the housing market, the approximately 200 local jobs, and the millions of dollars of infrastructure it would leave behind.
“The tax dollars we get a year is over $200,000,” she said of the temporary workforce accommodation.
“I think this is going to be good for our community,” she said.
Director of Community Planning and Development Gwen Sewell explained there are bonus agreements which will kick in depending on the number of beds PTI opens.
The lodge will have a base of 360 units. Upon adding an additional 240 units (up to 600 beds), a housing agreement will be made that requires all the units to be single-occupancy, rental only and with a minimum of 80 per cent available for construction workers and employees of businesses located in an industrial zone. The Bonus A amenity also calls for the $500 per bed to the District of Kitimat for future affordable housing projects.
The Bonus B level includes construction of pedestrian access trails through the land for those with mobility challenges.
The final level, Bonus C, which applies for up to the maximum 2,104 bed configuration, will call into an effect a Good Neighbour Agreement, which means PTI will provide meeting spaces “to facilitate communication between PTI, area residents, District of Kitimat, Chamber of Commerce, RCMP, Northern Health and other interested groups, at no cost to the municipality.”
Concurrent to the zoning changes, changes to the Official Community Plan were made as well, which according to Sewell would mean the town would be accepting of other similar zoning applications in other areas of town, but she stresses that the same public consultation process would have to be undergone if other proposals like PTI were to come forward.