The city of Prince Geoge City Council decided to approve CIF Construction and West Timber application to rezone property on Otway Rd. This was a very heated discussion but in the end the city decided to side with CIF Construction and Timber West.
The debate on this issue was highly contested by both sides. On one side the residents of North Nechako who felt that more industrialization in the area across the river from their homes would lead to lower quality of life. The arguments tended to focus on the air, light, water, and noise pollution that would come from the business that would move to the newly zoned property.
People who live in North Nechako are tired of attending meetings to fight to protect their neighbourhood. On May 12 some residents will go to a meeting to hear Pitman Asphalt plans to expand their operations that is also in the same area of the applicant.
One the other side the owners, employees and supporters of the companies Timber West and CIF Construction. They argued that by not approving this they would not be able to grow their business. The two companies had been in existence for a number of years and claim they had been in the area long before many of the residents who live in North Nechako.
After a long speakers list and 11-12 hours of council hearings the formal part of the hearing was closed and the city council began their debate on the issue. Like a parliamentary hearing the proponents for the project sat on one side of the aisle and the opponents on the other. People waited on baited breaths to see what their arguments would yield.
Murry Kraus sees this issue as very heated and knows though out his time in politics this was bound to happen. He did not support the application and knows it will make some very unhappy.
Terri McConnachie sees this as a collision on land use. She feels there is a need for a neighbourhood planning process. This application does not mean new industry is moving in to the area and people have still bought houses in the neighbourhood. CIF Construction and Timber West have "put their best foot forward." She supported the application.
Brain Skakun said when people made their presentations he really cut them slack for using a lot of time because many people were not accustomed to presenting. There is industry in the area but that does not mean more needs more is okay. The BCR industrial site is the proper place for light industrial and he does not want to see a piece meal application process in other areas. This is about a long term vision. Skakun did not support the application
Jillian Merrick felt that CIF and Timber West is an impressive company for helping grow the local economy. Merrick was very torn, the business has been there for a long time however she felt that the cumulative effect of pollution in the area would be problematic for the residents of North Nechako. Merrick voted against the application .
Albert Koehler some of the hearing became tense and not appropriate due to the presenters way of showing their opposition or support. The business in the old saw mill is extremely noisy especially if you live directly across from it according to Kohler, however business are more aware of neighbourhood impacts than ever before. We want our city to grow and be a city of growth and must accommodate business when possible, the point of a hearing is to decide whether that is the case with the current application. The berm should stop any noise that CIF or Timber West would make and the only noise left would be the already existing noise. However based on the information in front of him, he voted in favour of the application for the greater good of Prince George.
Susan Scott she does not see why this is was the "flash point it was." She did vote in favour of the application.
Garth Frizzell feels that we need to plan the river valley and should be something the city looks at for the future due to all the changes happening along the river. The information the city looked at was property values, pollution, OCP, industrial creep and so much more. After all the information was heard he was in favour of the application.
Lyn Hall says that planning along the river is needed and needs to happen for the future. He also voted in favour of the application.
So in the end some people walked away unhappy and some very grateful. One thing is sure planning along the river needs to happen for the future. As for CIF Construction and Timber West they will be moving to their new home and to expand their operations. No word yet if the residents of North Nechako will challenge the decision.