FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Hoping to have the process, which began about a year ago, completed by no later than November of this year, the City of Fort St John is moving forward with two boundary expansion proposals.
The current applications are for proposed boundary extensions in the northeast and southeast, and Janet Prestley, the Director of Legislative and Administrative Services, confirmed this week the city is close to submitting them to Peter Fassbender’s, Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.
The southeast proposal has 33 parcels of land, but the one for the northeast has two options, with a preferred one of 75 parcels, and smaller one with only 21.
In addition to the landowners, as part of the application process, the city has contacted outside stakeholders, and to that end has sought input from the Agricultural Land Commission, the Peace River Regional District, and local area First Nations.
Later in the process, provided one or both of the applications goes forward, the city will be required to also give city residents input opportunity, and if and when, it finally gets past ministry staff to Mr. Fassbender, he then makes the decision whether or not to present one or both applications to the provincial cabinet.
There are however some confusing and challenging provincial guidelines in place and they include a requirement for local majority approval for each proposal but while rejecting 50 percent plus one as an acceptable majority, the province doesn’t clarify what it does consider an acceptable majority.
In addition, the city application includes property owner response to the proposals, and whereas in the past, those who didn’t reply, were automatically considered in favour of the expansion in question, they are now automatically considered opposed to it.
Finally, another city challenge goes to the fringe properties located in the proposed areas, because they already make use of some city services, but because they’re in the PRRD, they’ve not been developed according to city standards, actually making them, in terms of both city development cost and control, less attractive than vacant lands