City paves way for park sale

The city took its first steps Monday night in preparing a portion of Ron Brent park for sale.

City council passed first and second reading of the required zoning changes necessary to precede the sale of 1.86 hectares of land behind Gateway Lodge to a Kamloops-based developer.

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The property is currently a mix of land already zoned for multiple residential use and parks and recreation.

Area residents got their first peek at the proposed 173-unit multi-family housing project - geared towards seniors with a mixture of market rental, affordable rental and condominiums for purchase - in early December at a city-hosted public meeting.

The land has to be rezoned and undergo an official community plan redesignation before it is sold to A&T Ventures.

According to planning and development general manager Ian Wells, the city has a policy to put money from the sale of parkland back into parks by sprucing up existing spaces or buying new property.

Council supports Canfor ALR request

Council also gave their early consent for Canfor to move forward in its bid to build a water treatment plant and decanting pond on a neighbouring P.G. Pulpmill Road property.

The land in question is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, which means the company has to apply for a non-farm use through the Agricultural Land Commission.

The commission takes the city's support or non-support of a project into consideration when making its decision.

According to a staff report on the application, the proposed facility would separate river silt from the water taken from the Nechako River and discharge the silts into the proposed decanting lagoon where water would be permitted to evaporate or infiltrate.

"It is expected that the proposed water treatment plant will allow Canfor to reduce their energy costs, decrease water use, improve product quality, improve their effluent treatment by increasing the retention time of the effluent and reduce overall effluent volumes released to the river," said a report from McElhanney Consulting on the project.

Closed meeting confidential

After putting the decision off for four months, city council ultimately decided not to change the way they release information from its closed sessions.

On Monday night, council picked up an item postponed from Aug. 31 because the group wanted more time and more information about what it would take to have staff spend more time sifting through minutes and reports from confidential meetings.

When set aside last summer, the group was set to vote on whether to have staff create a policy for proactive and regular release of closed meeting information.

This would allow staff to review meeting minutes and other documents and bring items forward to council for its authorization to be released in part or as a whole.

The info would then be posted on the city's website.

That's the method currently used by Vancouver and Nanaimo, which have publicly posted little to no resolutions from 2015 on their respective websites.

Coun. Garth Frizzell, who – along with Coun. Brian Skakun – brought the idea forward in the first place, said the intervening months have shed some perspective on the amount of time and expense required for staff to devote the necessary time to the practice.

The current practice of releasing information on an case-by-case basis will continue.

So far, the current council has released the results of one closed-meeting vote from a

May 25 session where it decided not to renew the city's contract with Initiatives Prince George as an external economic development branch.

Coun. Albert Koehler was the lone opposing vote in that decision.

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