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REPORTING · 5th November 2015
Walter McFarlane
The Regular Meeting of Kitimat Council on Monday, November 2nd began with a public hearing relating to LNG Canada and a bylaw which will make changes to land which was zoned industrial and some which was zoned environmental.

This public hearing is a continuation from a public hearing on the 26th of October. At this public hearing, it was explained by Ruth Sulentich, a representative of LNG Canada, that they would like to rezone several pieces of environmentally sensitive land to industrial and several pieces of industrial land to environmentally sensitive.

“LNG Canada understands and appreciates that there might be some concern over the proposal to rezone environmental land as industrial. The tracts of land that we’re applying to rezone from environmental to industrial were originally designated environmental in 1992 due to their proximity to the Kitimat River. Since that time, the river has altered course or meandered and the zoning has not been updated to reflect these changes. LNG Canada has conducted extensive studies of the entire foot print regardless of the current zoning and this was done as a part of the environmental assessment application,” said Sulentich.

Dennis Horwood and Walter Thorne of Kitimat Valley Naturalists got up to address Council as well. They thanked the Council for the extension. “During the past week, we were able to meet with a team from LNG Canada. We have a better concept of the whole Compensation Offset Plan formulated with the assistance of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Nanaimo and LNG Canada. We are reasonably confident that the newly arranged environmentally sensitive area corridor to the east of the industry and beside the river could work,” said Horwood, reading from a letter.

He stated they would be satisfied as long as the agencies mentioned in the table of conditions for the environmental assessment certificate continue to make sure these conditions are met. However, they had several questions concerning the report to Council to clarify several points.

Horwood asked if the motion change 72 Hectares of land from parks and recreation and change it to industrial. He was told this change was correct.

Horwood said they are pleased with the gain of 3 hectors related to the LNG application but were disturbed by the loss of 72 hectors and wanted to know what the compensation was.

“We know that we will be making improvements to parks and recreation areas in our municipality in 2016 and beyond, but there will be no definitive payoff,” said Gwendolyn Sewell, City Planner.

She stated while these lands are being designated, they will not be zoned. While they designate through the OCP, they cannot zone through it.

Council had also received an email from Lucy McRae at Douglas Chanel Watch. She expressed their group’s questions were satisfied by the proponent, but they still have concerns about erosion from the Kitimat River on the property. She stated they would like to see a right of way along the Kitimat River for humans and wildlife alike, pointed out during the high water event in October, the right of way was underwater.

McRae also noticed the prior PNG Pipeline to this area was underwater and they could smell the additive from the natural gas. There was a crew in the area so they did not report this, but suggested it be kept under surveillance.

Scott MacKillop from LNG Canada got up to answer a few questions from the submissions to Council. In response to the questions asked by the Naturalists, he stated there is a larger area associated with the OCP designation. He also wanted to express the importance of the approach they proposed in the application, being measured primarily on the current zoning.

“We feel as though, from a broader view, that that zoning is most reflective of intended land use and purpose of the areas that we have of interest,” said MacKillop.

In regards to McRae’s comments regarding the green belt, he expressed that piece of land was being held under easement to the District of Kitimat. The purpose would be as a greenbelt and they would be interested in keeping it from being flooded during times of high water.

Goffinet couldn’t understand how they are losing 70 hectares of land from the OCP. MacKillop could not answer the question. However, he stated he believed this was due to a courser view of the landscape. Sewell explained they were taking out around 18 hectares of land from the environmentally sensitive area. The 70 Hectares is not environmentally sensitive lands, but is currently designated as parks and recreation.

Council decided to adjourn the public hearing, although Goffinet was confused between the terms, ‘adjourn’ and ‘adjourn to’.

Later in the meeting, the rezoning came up for discussion. Goffinet expressed he has been conflicted due to the two parts of the motion, giving it second and third reading and the OCP amendment which he stated was amended at the prior meeting.

He stated he was happy with the 1 to 1 compensation with the LNG Zoning. However, he stated he was troubled by the OCP amendment. He felt there was no compensation for 72 Hectares of land which are a part of the same estuary.

“If these two are together, I don’t feel comfortable enough to vote for both parts. I wish we had paused, maybe my questions cannot be answered, maybe my questioning is incorrect and is flawed, but at the moment, it hasn’t been answered properly,” said Goffinet.

He was told by Sewell, the majority of the land surrounding the town was designated parks and recreation. The land in question has a layer of zoning on it and a layer of OCP designation, which are in conflict.

Councillor Mary Murphy agreed to the motion, although she admitted it was confusing. She expressed these changes are two different things. Councillor Claire Rattee wanted to split the motion, but it was not considered a friendly amendment and there was no seconder. Second and third reading was called and carried.