City council has voted to amend the Official Community Plan to allow for the provision of Temporary Use Permits (TUP).
The issue arose after the city received an application to make a text amendment to the OCP that would include policy statements to support TUP.
“This is bit of an unusual application for us,” said Scott Smith, city planner, during Monday’s meeting. “The city recently did receive a public concern about [the property] and the owner was informed that those weren’t in compliance with the zoning bylaw, and that prompted this application.”
The property, owned by Harjodhan Rai, is located in the 3800 block of Wood Avenue and has several trailers and RV’s on site which are occupied. According to Smith, the property is zoned C-4 Highway Commercial, which does not support the current use.
“The city does not have a zoning district that allows for long term or residential use of trailers and recreational vehicles,” he added.
A summary report from the Advisory Planning Commission, a motion was made to recommend that council not proceed with an amendment to the OCP, but consider allowing the property owner a 12-month period to bring the property into compliance with the bylaw.
If council approves a supporting OCP amendment, Rai would then be permitted to apply for a TUP that would permit the current use for three years, up to a maximum of six.
“Looking at the property, it’s kept clean – my biggest concern was ‘was it neat’ and I know [the applicant] has someone care-taking for it and a lot of those people living there are low income and they’re elderly,” said councillor Cindy Solda.
Coun. Jack McLeman said he objected to the circumstances under which the issue was raised.
“I’ve been in Port Alberni well over 40 years… and I can remember the days around 10th Avenue and how it was going to be zoned and zoning being changed and all kinds of upsets from people and businesses and whether it was going to be business or residential… why did the city, when they were doing the official community plan in different years, not take a look at what was there and say something,” he said.
“My problem, more than anything else is you don’t just change something that’s been going on 50 years and say ‘you can’t do that anymore’.”
A Temporary Use Permit allows uses that are not permitted in the zoning bylaw, for a limited time period in a situation where it is not appropriate to consider a zoning change.
With the amendment, council will have to consider the details and conditions relating to the temporary use permit. It will be subject to a hearing process before it is approved.
* Niomi Pearson is a freelance journalist who formerly lived in Port Alberni