Van Isle Ford has been given the green light to relocate to Stirling Field.
Port Alberni city councillors voted 3-2 to adopt the bylaws that cleared the way for the move.
Mayor John Douglas and Coun. Wendy Kerr voted against the move, while Dan Washington, Jack McLeman and Rob Cole voted in favour. Coun. Cindy Solda withdrew because of a conflict of interest and Coun. Hira Chopra was away.
Speaking against the motion, Douglas said that Stirling Field has development potential and could be home to a world-class centerpiece. As well, Douglas advocated the principle of centralization. “It’s in the best interest to have it in an area where other auto malls are.”
Coun. Kerr concurred with Douglas, adding that Stirling was greenspace and a small piece of paradise.
The whole Valley is a jewel, Coun. Rob Cole said. The city used to be known as a car town, adding a better job needed to be done of planning for small business interests.
Several councillors inquired about the Waterfront North Study that the city is participating in jointly with the Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations, as well as with the Port Alberni Port Authority.
The study area is between Catalyst and the Paper Mill Dam, and includes key areas such as North Port, Clutesi Haven Marina and Stirling Field, city planner Scott Smith said.
In a later discussion, McLeman criticized city staff for keeping the study terms of reference under wraps and taking 18 months to craft them. “We’re talking about a study that’s not even there, no reports, nothing,” McLeman said.
The terms of reference have just been finished and will be made public via the city website shortly, Smith said.
Several councillors were wondered aloud about the position of the Hupacasath First Nation on the matter.
If the development goes ahead, the Hupacasath will ask for a rigorous archeological impact study of the area as well as an accommodation impact agreement, Hupacasath chief councillor Steven Tatoosh said then.
“He (Will Pulford) will have to deal with that now,” Washington said.
News of the development came as a disappointment to the Hupacasath, Tatoosh said. “At minimum we’ll be asking for an archeological impact study,” Tatoosh said. “Beyond that we’ll consider our options.”
Tatoosh was also disappointed with how the move impacts the pending waterfront north study but Hupacasath is in for a penny to its in for a pound.
“We’ve already made a big financial commitment to be part of the study,” he said. “We want to be involved and have a fair say.”