Temporary use permits discussed at PRRD meeting

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Tom Summer Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
The Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) supports the creation of original civic journalism. Tom Summer works under the Alaska Highway News in Fort St. John. The content that is produced will be made available to media organizations through a Creative Commons license so that Canadians can be better informed.

The Peace River Regional District went over the finer points of temporary use permits on May 28, revisiting policy from the past five years to generate discussion on how the board will issue permits going forward.

Permits are increasingly being used as a substitute for rezoning, primarily to allow local businesses to operate. Planning consultant Katrin Saxty appeared before the board to present a history on temporary use permits in the district.

The permits allow for a temporary use of land for purposes not designated or zoned for under district bylaw. Users must apply every three years to be granted that right by the PRRD, with one renewal to a max of six years.

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“That’s not to preclude that someone could come back after those six years, and apply for a whole new temporary use permit,” said Saxty, noting current legislation does allow it.

Temporary use permits are largely used for work camps, farmers’ markets, oil and gas equipment stations, temporary sawmills, and gravel pits. However, they are not intended to be used for RV parks, gyms, schools, campsites, or recreational vehicle and boat storage.

Previously, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) had up to 20-year allowances for non-farm temporary uses. Waivers with conditions are being suggested by the PRRD for future temporary use permits. 

“If you’re allowing something for 20 years, it’s really difficult to argue that it’s temporary,” noted Saxty, adding that enforcement is also a challenge.

PRRD bylaw enforcement operates on a complaint basis, with no staff actively inspecting properties.

“We don’t have any bylaw enforcement staff with the capability to police this,” said Director Dan Rose, noting the PRRD lacks authority over private and Crown property.

Increased taxation to employ bylaw enforcement officers is also a concern, while the ALC and the Ministry of Energy are two agenices regularly involved in land use regulations.

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“They have their own set of rules, and we don’t do their enforcement for them either,” Rose said.

Email reporter Tom Summer at [email protected]

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