Hadland had been asked by residents to circulate a survey asking whether the 92 affected property owners are in favour of being included in the Fort St. John boundary. However, Directors Bruce Christensen and Merlin Nichols both expressed concern that those people might think that if the PRRD gets involved it could change the process.
“If the Regional District has no jurisdiction in this transaction, then a letter out on District letterhead would seem to say that the Regional District has jurisdiction,” says Nichols. “I don’t mind the letter, but there’s other kinds of paper.”
The City recently restarted the application process involving properties to the west and southwest of the city’s boundary, `citing the lack of industrial land available for development as well as to manage growth related to the Site C dam.
Chief Administrative Officer Fred Banham explains that when the provincial government is looking at boundary inclusion or exclusion applications, they only deal directly with the applicant.
“If the Regional District and the director representing the area has comments they want to make towards that,” he suggests, “they should work with their constituents to work through the City’s application process and make sure that those comments are made loud and clear.”
The decision on whether Hadland could send around the survey was deferred from the board’s September 12 meeting, so that the property owners could attend the meeting with the City that evening before potentially making their decision. He says he’s willing to step aside, but is concerned about accommodation measures for the affected property owners and makes the suggestion of looking into other options.
“I’m really concerned about accommodating the people that will be included,” he says. “I hear our CEO say that we’re not supposed to be involved, but my constituents are actually wondering why not. It seems like it’s sort of a one-sided deal. I think there’s got to be some room for compromise.”
Director Lori Ackerman maintains that Fort St. John City Council has not yet had a discussion about how property owners will be accommodated.
“There’s a variety of things that could be accommodated, but we haven’t gotten to that part in the process yet,” she explains. “I’m afraid that this survey is very one-sided – you’re either for or against – but are you for it if council decides that there is a varied rate? They don’t know that because we haven’t heard enough.”
The City is still accepting input on the boundary extension proposal. A summary of responses will be included in the agenda for the October 28 Council meeting.