District of Kitimat Council denied a zoning amendment that would allow recreational vehicles (R.V.s) to be used as temporary housing in the Vista Village Trailer Park.
With workforce numbers rising since the announcement, in 2018, to build an LNG Canada export facility in Kitimat, the housing would be for temporary workers in town.
Though LNG Canada provides worker accommodation for their workforce, accommodations are not available for temporary workers who are indirectly working on the LNG Canada project, such as BC Hydro employees, or LNG workers who are allowed to live offsite.
“We know there’s pressure on housing for temp workers, some are even banding together in rental properties. […] As a community, I think we have an uneasy sense that we’re not meeting part of the niche of demand that’s out there,” Councillor Mario Feldhoff said, who voted against the zoning amendment but still emphasized the need for temporary housing. “If these people can’t bring their R.V.s into town on a temporary basis it’s going to create problems.”
To help with the need for temporary housing, the district is currently proceeding with an R.V. park near Sandhill Way, which will potentially help with the rising numbers of temporary workers.
“A building permit has been issued for [an R.V. park near Sandhill Way] and construction is progressing on that R.V. park,” Alex Ramos-Espinoza, District of Kitimat’s director of engineering, said.
Although Vista Village Trailer Park management said they have the necessary space for temporary housing in Kitimat, council and district staff said that if they were to approve the Vista Village zoning amendment, building inspectors would run into issues with the buildings not recognized, and bylaw enforcement would need the means to monitor how each unit is being used.
The applicant said that they’re willing to upgrade electrical, sanitary, and water connection services if the application was approved, but the council believes the trailer park owner is trying to work around current issues taking place on the property as residents have reported problems with utilities, such as lack of water pressure and hydro complications.
“[Utilities] is the first a foremost thing we addressed and discussed that we wanted to upgrade, especially water for firefighting purposes which is totally inadequate. So I think those have to be addressed and I think the proposed is trying to skirt around that again by asking to allow R.V.s into the park,” Councillor Mark Zielinski said speaking against the zoning amendment.
Staff have met several times to discuss this application and explore alternative approaches to allow R.V.s at this location and will continue working with the applicant on alternative options for long-term redevelopment of the site.
“I do look forward to staff continuing to work with the owner of this park,” Mayor Phil Germuth said speaking against the zoning amendment. “In a perfect world, it would be nice to see the electricity in there fixed up, the roads fixed up, the water fixed up and potentially the expansion of mobile homes.”