A rezoning request for property just off of Highway 16 and Frederick in the east side of the city has been held up for further investigation, that after local residents and Councillor Joy Thorkelson expressed concerns over how the rezoning might impact on a residential trailer park in the area.
The application came up for discussion at Tuesday’s regular council meeting, with a number of residents of the trailer park in attendance to seek the assistance of city councilors.
The rezoning application is designed to allow D and N Seafoods to expand their current operation on their property there, a move that they suggest could in the future result in an increase of at least ten jobs for the operation.
Residents of a near by trailer park however, some of them having lived their for ten years or more are afraid that should the project get a go ahead, then it’s only a matter of time before they are forced out of their homes.
The Daily News outlined some of the background on the planned rezoning and the outcry against it all part of the Wednesday paper.
Council mulls possible loss of trailers
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Pages one and three
Prince Rupert City Council decided to hold off on approving rezoning for a development just off Highway 16, in an effort to uncover whether or not the owner of the land would consider coming up with an agreement with residents who currently live in trailers on the land in question.
City planning consultant Zeno Krekic presented his report at the public meeting Tuesday night inside council chambers, saying that rezoning bylaw 3266. 2008 and 3267, 2008 would simply allow the owner of that land and D & N Seafood to expand their operations, which in the future could create 10 new jobs for the people of Prince Rupert.
But some expressed concern that 17 trailers still stand on the property in question, and Coun. Joy Thorkelson was concerned that residents on that land might suddenly find themselves homeless.
“My concern is the trailer park,” she said.
“What are the rights of the trailer park owners?
Krekic advised council that the owner, referred to as “Mr. Lee,” had made arrangements with some of the residents, and that other properties that still exist on the land are “non-conforming,” and would not be immediately affected by the proposed development.
But resident Elizabeth Stewart painted a different picture when she told council tat she feared she would be evicted.
“We have lived out there for 18 years, and we wanted to live out there the rest of our lives, she said.
“But now they’re saying we may have one year, we may have two.
“What are we supposed to do? With us just on a small pension, I don’t know what we’re supposed to do.”
Stewart then added that the owner had offered a year’s free rent, which is worth approximately $2,600.
“That’s the price of my home?” she said.
Mayor Herb Pond tried to assure Stewart and other residents still on the land in question that the rezoning bylaw would not affect their immediate future in any way, only that by giving the report a third reading would the developer be in a position to begin looking at expansion.
Krekic added: “The owner’s reaction or response to those residents on the site will be the same today or tomorrow, regardless what we choose to do. That is up to the owner and the tenant.”
Krekic explained that a non-conforming property - in this case a trailer – would be left alone for the time being, whereas a trailer that is no longer deemed non-conforming – for example, on that is abandoned or half burned – would be removed from the land.
Victor Prystay was on-hand representing Mr. Lee, and he backed up Krekic’s statements.
“This is a proposal that would put 10 jobs in Prince Rupert, but we would need the back part of the land,” he said.
He added that many of the trailers, including the Stewarts’, would not be affected by the development plans.
But Thorkelson was not convinced, and when the issue resurfaced during the regular council meeting, she once again voiced her concern.
“I’m a little cranky about this issue,” she said. “I don’t have a problem with what D & N plans to do, but I do have a problem with forcing people from their homes, where they have nowhere to go.
“If we go through with this, I’d want assurances from Mr. Lee that they could stay there.”
Coun. Tony Briglio said that he didn’t think council could legally impose rules on the owner, or in the same breath, the tenant when it came to this issue.
“We can only deal with the portion of the request that is being made,” he said.
Coun. Ken Cote added: “It’s so difficult to find people willing to develop here in Prince Rupert… D & N might say we’re not going to develop it (if we don’t accept this rezoning)
Briglio then suggested that city staff meet with Mr. Lee to find out what options are out there for the tenants, and Thorkelson then made the motion to defer the decision until the next council meeting.