The city is applying to the province to halt future Crown Land applications in the Jordan River area.
A Section 17 Conditional Withdrawal, under the Crown Land Act, could see the land protected from development with decision making power shifted to the city from the province.
Marianne Wade, director of development services for the city, said a Section 17 withdrawal would allow the city to create proper zoning and plans to best suit the area.
She anticipates the province will take around three months to process the application and said she would make it a priority to have the document submitted as soon as possible.
The other options, such as applying for a Community License of Occupation or an alternate trail alignment would be a longer approval process, Wade reported.
Councillor Tim Palmer, who originally moved to have this report created, wanted further action by staff and council, suggesting that council make a first and second reading on rezoning the area to P1 (Park) at the next council meeting.
Although a rezoning would not prevent the province from doing what they wanted with the land, Palmer said he believes rezoning would be a strong political statement to the province that protecting this land is a priority for our community.
In the city’s zoning bylaw, P1 does not allow gravel pits, whereas, the current zoning, RR60, does.
However, Wade said she didn’t believe that rezoning the land would dissuade the province, as they have final say on what is and isn’t allowed on Crown Land, and that staff’s time was better used on completing tasks at hand, such as the Short Term rental report, as well as the application for the Section 17 withdrawal.
A tie-vote on the motion to rezone meant it was defeated, with Palmer, Jackie Rhind and Michael Brooks-Hill in favour and Nicole Cherlet, Rob Elliott and Gary Sulz opposed.
Protecting the Jordan River area became a community priority in 2019 after an application was made to build a gravel pit near Westside Rd.
Despite public outcry and a letter opposing the application from the city, the province issued a temporary license to occupy and investigate a portion of the land for a gravel pit near the Jordan River. The license expires this December.
However, there are now two new gravel pit applications currently under review by the province for the Westside Rd. area, one across the road from the area hosting the Jordan River trail and the other at the bottom of Boulder Mountain, up the Jordan Forest Service Rd. Both were submitted by Terus Construction Ltd. The public can comment online on both proposals.
Last year, city council voted to prioritize creating the Columbia Park and Westside neighbourhood plan as part of the ongoing Official Community Plan update, in hopes of addressing concerns about the Jordan River area. However, the update process has not yet moved past the first neighbourhood, Johnson Heights.
Council also voted to support an application made by the Alpine Club of Canada to improvement and maintain the Jordan River trail, however, the province denied that request as much of the trail is in a sensitive riparian area.