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REPORTING · 10th December 2014
Walter McFarlane
At a Special Meeting of Council on Monday, December 8th, the new Council was graced by the presence of Leonard Kerkhoff who was presenting on two topics, the Riverbrook Estates and the Haisla Town Centre. Council decided to deal with the latter of the two first and he approached Council with the Haisla Business Operations Representatives: Jake Duncan, Brendon Grant and Brent Robinson.

He showed Council a slide of what the project will look like. He explained they plan to add an interchange to the three way traffic light near the mall. It will have three residential buildings along the back, an office building at the front, a hotel and a restaurant. He explained the commercial area was planned for the future. The apartments will have underground parking and there will be a tree buffer between the new apartments and the existing neighbourhoods at Albatross. Due to the differential in height, the housing on Albatross will not be able to see the apartments.

“Currently, the entire property is 17.37 acres. We’re proposing to chop it into four smaller sections which allows the Haisla to lease financing arrangements on different parcels affecting the individual buildings. Currently, we are showing one site for the commercial. In the future, once things solidify with the commercial building, we will be likely coming back for a further subdivision of that site, once we know where to draw the line. Right now, we are really concentrating on the residential components of the site,” said Kerkhoff.

He stated they just got the report on the Traffic relating on the change to the intersection of Haisla and Tsimshian. They are proposing a left hand turn lane into the site and cutting back the median and one of the ‘islands’ to aid in the flow of the intersection.

“The Haisla are in the final steps of arranging a lease for condo one at this time,” said Kerkhoff. “The intention is to commence construction in spring of 2015 with a completion for fall 2016. We’re looking at two summers and a winter of construction to get this building done.”

He told Council they want to get the roof on by winter.

As for the hotel, they plan to start later in 2015 or 2016, but pointed out it is really market driven on final investment decisions and the market as there are already hotels being built around Kitimat.

Kerkhoff explained to Council the plans have been submitted for the first apartment and they should be coming before Council in the next week or two. The plans will show what the 49 units look like, how big the building will be and other parameters usually not included in a zoning application. He added behind each of the ground floor unit’s private patios, there will be a common area where everyone can get together.

On the topic of the Christmas Tree, they are in discussions about moving it to the park. “It’s currently […] smack dab in the middle of the driveway. We have an arborist report that says: currently, the chances of survivability of this tree if we move it is about 70%. We’re still weighing costs and whether that’s merited, 70% risk of dying vs the cost of move or how many trees we could replace with the same cost of moving the tree, whether that is something that can be done,” said Kerkhoff.

He asked Council to shorten the schedule as much as possible, as they want to get the apartment started in March. He asked them to have the public hearing on January 5th.

Kerkhoff also told Council there will be an open house next week on Wednesday December 17th, at the meeting room at the Tamitik sports complex from 6:30-8:30 so people can provide comments to start off the public process.

Councillor Larry Walker expressed in the report to Council, Council would have to consult with the school board on this development. He wanted to know if they could do so in the timeframe. He was told Staff would be talking about this in a brief presentation following the Kerkhoff presentation.

Councillor Edwin Empinado wanted to know if the 49 units would include units which would cater to people with disabilities. He was told the first building would not be market housing because the occupant does not require it.

Empinado clarified that people from Kitimat will not be able to purchase units in the building and they will not be available. He was told this is the case, and the second and third buildings are currently not being looked at.

Empinado asked if the units were already sold. He was told they are not, the Haisla will maintain ownership of the land and they are working on a lease arrangement for a tenant for the entire building.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated the change to the intersection would be a big change for the down town core and why they decided to do it. He said there were three reasons.

“One is that the District comments that have really been pushing for that access that would link the two commercial sections to the downtown core, rather than having it as: that commercial up there and this commercial over here. That connection provides the flow through. The other is the geotechnical soil conditions of the site,” said Kerkhoff. “The third is maintaining this intersection [on Lahakus].”

He said there was a line dividing good soil and poor soil. They are not putting the hotel on the poor soil. Because they pushed a building back, to keep one of their roads strait, they would have to create a new intersection on Lahakus and not use the one for the old hospital. However, this change would put the new intersection on a blind corner creating a hazard. The District of Kitimat asked them not to change this factor.

There were no further questions so Kerkhoff and company sat down. City Planner Gwendolyn Sewell explained there was a change requested by the proponent relating to on street parking.

“The current standard in our community is two parking stalls per dwelling unit. Both of which must have unrestricted access to the street,” said Sewell. “The request has been submitted that we consider one parking stall for each one bedroom unit and one parking stall for each one bedroom and den unit and two parking stalls for two bedroom units and two bedroom den units.”

She explained there is a proviso for one visitor parking stall for every five dwelling units.

Sewell told Council that any changes to the schedule would be their call. They could anticipate the level of public interest in the project but also pointed out a number of residents would be preoccupied with the Christmas Holidays.

“To really be fair and ensure that we have a full and informed public conversation, one public hearing session or possibly two, our recommendation is to stick with the schedule which is outlined in your report,” said Sewell.

She stated they planned on distributing public notices twice to ensure people are aware it is happening. Sewell also stated she would encourage the developer to hold the open houses as they would inform the community in a formal fashion. Finally, she explained to Council the public hearing was being planned for a different meeting date then a Monday night.

Councillor Rob Goffinet moved a motion to schedule first reading a week for the Regular Meeting on December 15th with the changes made and explained to Council. He also wanted to schedule a public hearing for January 20th, 2015.

“We are giving one more week for all of us, including the newer Councillors to digest the rapidity of change. It still ends with a public hearing on January 20th,” said Goffinet. “It does give us one extra week to digest the plan, the time table, the implications of this development and really gives us time to understand it better.”

Mayor Phil Germuth expressed the council could also make changes to the bylaw before third reading.

Feldhoff proposed an amendment to the bylaw, to have the public hearing date changed to the 5th of January. It was seconded by Mayor Phil Germuth.

Feldhoff expressed the developer had made a case for timelines and putting a roof on the faculty. “This project should not come as a surprise to anyone in the community it’s been well documented in the media. There has been a change with the road alignment and even though the Christmas season is upon us, we will have good input on the 5th,” said Feldhoff.

He stated he expected this to put challenges on the staff.

Walker expressed there was a need for consultation with the School District and the Advisory Planning and Traffic Committees. He asked if all of this could be accomplished in the timeframe given, providing for Christmas.

“It is extremely tight, and a very serious decision that should not be rushed,” said Walker.

Sewell expressed she could not speak for the school board schedule. They would have to meet for the board. She could also not speak for the traffic committee. She could however state there is an Planning Committee Meeting later this month. She also stated there are a number of pressures on staff which include the 2015 budget during this timeframe as well. She reminded Council this is not the only application they have and there is also a public hearing for Riverbrooke Estates on January 5th as well.

Germuth stated the Council does have the option to extend the public hearing past the fifth. While he was told this is the case, the administration does not want to carry on the practice as it confuses the public as to what is moving forward and what is not. They want to do the whole thing in one night when the public has ample time to speak.

Feldhoff expressed he wanted this to move forward as quickly as possible.

Both the amendment and the motion were called and carried with Councillor’s Rob Goffinet and Larry Walker Opposed.
Road to New Development
Comment by CEM on 14th December 2014
Just wondering why the road into this development can't be the same as it was when the old hospital was there and then the Christmas tree could be saved. There are also some nice maple trees that I hope won't be removed.
development
Comment by Jim on 10th December 2014
Well once again Mr. Kerkhoff is in front of council
With his grandiose plans for all his Development
Proposals for Kitimat and his need to FastTrack
Some of the buracracy so he can proceed in the early spring as soon as possible on the Haisla
owned developments. Just wondering though
With the recent announcement of the Petronas
LNG project in Prince Rupert being put on hold due to world economic conditions even though the Provincial government did their part tax wise to make it as attractive to do business as possible and the recent announcement from Shell recently
On BNN (business news ) and I quote the company is less likely to proceed with western lng projects if oil is below 80 dollars a barrel . Well it hit 62 dollars this morning and is still falling .I hope I am wrong but I can see a similar announcement that Petronas made being done here in Kitimat by Shell in the near future and with the Rio Tinto modernization project due to complete next summer why will there be a need for all this development so quickly hmm just wondering