The office space proposed by Jack Oviatt, owner of J. Oviatt Contracting, has been put on pause until district staff can tackle the application from a policy directive to figure out how the Strawberry Meadows area will develop in the future. (J. Oviatt Contracting photo)

The office space proposed by Jack Oviatt, owner of J. Oviatt Contracting, has been put on pause until district staff can tackle the application from a policy directive to figure out how the Strawberry Meadows area will develop in the future. (J. Oviatt Contracting photo)

Strawberry Meadows office buildings paused

The development has been denied until more community engagement is made

A proposal by the developer of the Strawbery Meadows subdivision to rezone six Loganberry Ave. lots for commercial use has been denied until the District of Kitimat gathers public opinion about the plan.

The drafted amendments from J. Oviatt Contracting would affect nine properties, totalling almost 14 acres of land, and would rezone six properties from a greenbelt zoning to a higher density commercial zoning, which is nearly double the size of Nechako Centre in Kitimat.

Typically a development permit is needed for projects but no such permit is needed for Jack Oviatt, owner of J. Oviatt contracting, for the property he owns in the Strawberry Meadows area, meaning there’s no opportunity for public comment. The District’s Advisory Planning Commission would also have no role to play in providing comment.

All developer J. Oviatt Contracting would need is a building permit.

“I would like to see us come back and take a look at this in the future with a little bit of feedback from planning and the committee,” Councillor Terry Marleau said in favour of the recommendation to deny the zoning amendment application for the six properties on Loganberry Avenue.

Council also emphasized that the initial vision for the Strawberry Meadows area was supposed to be high-level premium housing, but now this application is mixing the residential community with commercial properties, which they believe should be discussed with the community first.

Having said that, councillor Rob Goffinet highlighted that council has tried reaching out to community members more than once and only two residents have given formal complaints about the development application.

Oviatt responded to the planning committee concerns stating that he’s been a Kitimat resident for many years and would never try and devalue the property lots or go against community intentions. 

“For those who think the commercial is bad for the area, […] ask yourself, why would I jeopardize lot sales on the rest of my lots in the meadows to simply have a few more commercial lots,” Oviatt stated in an email to district staff.

“It is my opinion that this lot is ideal for diversification in the meadows because commercial activity exists directly across the street,” Oviatt stated, talking about the Civeo Sitka Lodge off Lahakas Blvd.

Oviatt also stated that the goal is to attract business coming to Kitimat, however, the council and staff did not approve the contract and believe that proper engagement with the existing residents is still needed, to ensure that future development matches the needs and wants of the community, especially when no guidelines have been established for the form and character of future developments.

Staff will now draft visionary policies and reports with options, timelines, and required resources that will affect future decision-making in Strawberry Meadows and hope to bring it back to the council as early as mid-October.

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jacob.lubberts@northernsentinel.com