The highlighted land was proposed to be a 20-unit temporary worker housing lot off the Trans-Canada Highway. The temporary permit was denied by council during its Jan. 25 meeting. (Screenshot/District of Hope)

The highlighted land was proposed to be a 20-unit temporary worker housing lot off the Trans-Canada Highway. The temporary permit was denied by council during its Jan. 25 meeting. (Screenshot/District of Hope)

Hope council denies permit for Landstrom Road temp worker housing

The three-year temporary permit would’ve allowed for 20 RV units on the site

Trans Mountain pipeline preparations took the bulk of Hope’s district council meeting on Jan. 25.

Responding to the concerns of residents and community advocates, District council denied a three-year temporary use permit which would have allowed for a development near Landstrom Road, creating space for temporary workers to live on the land over the course of the pipeline expansion project.

Coun. Heather Stewin moved to approve the permit with Coun. Scott Medlock seconding; Stewin and Medlock were the only votes in favour, defeating the motion.

Stewin said she saw both sides of the issue, hoping to balance the concerns and fears of the affected Landstrom Road residents with an ongoing shortage of housing for Hope’s workforce.

Director of community development Jas Gill expects the accommodations on the property to reach 20 units at maximum. Couns. Bob Erickson and Dusty Smith, who were opposed to the permit, said the development would cause too large of an impact to the neighbourhood but a smaller development of five to 10 units would have been less concerning.

Coun. Victor Smith did not vote on this, excusing himself due to a conflict of interest.

The council received 11 letters of opposition from residents. Mayor Peter Robb said residents raised a wave of concerns, including worries of increased structure and wild fire risk, increased COVID-19 transmission, traffic safety issues, noise pollution, adverse effect on the neighbourhood’s feel, water system integrity and septic system capacity.

Opponents of the permit also brought up the upcoming Laidlaw camp on Shxw’Ow’Hamel First Nation land.

“Is there a researched, documented need for accommodation of this type, especially since Trans Mountain has already planned a temporary full-service camp for the Hope area?” Robb read from an opposition summary. “The proposal lacks adequate research with respect to proposed, added accommodations for Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project workers.”

Kathy Koopman, a resident near the camp who spoke before council, said the development will disrupt the rural, residential lifestyle of the neighbourhood.

“We feel that, as a community, our concerns could possibly be dismissed by the developer as not important because it is only a temporary but renewable permit,” Koopman stated. “We are bewildered that the needs of temporary pipeline workers could possibly supersede the needs of residents, many of whom have lived in this neighbourhood for nearly 40 years.”

READ ALSO: Trans Mountain pipeline work proceeds with COVID-19 restrictions

Koopman also pointed out a proposed RV park was turned down on this same property in 1976. She said the neighbourhood isn’t opposed to development, but they would like to see the land turned into a neighbourhood similar to the one already in place rather than potentially disruptive, temporary work housing.

Director of corporate services Donna Bellingham indicated Trans Mountain was neutral on the temporary permit application and had no plans to use the land as described.

“Under current planning, Trans Mountain plans to house the project workforce in the camp community [on Shxw’ow’Hamel First Nation land],” Trans Mountain officials commented. “Workers previously housed in rental and hotel accommodations will be relocated to the OHamil camp community on their return to work following the holiday break. Trans Mountain anticipates minimal use of local commercial and rental accommodations in the Hope region throughout construction.”

The permit applicant, Fraser View Ventures Ltd., said the proposed permit came about after owners and pipeline contractors discussed the potential for additional accommodations. John Behrens, the permit applicant, was present via Zoom for the meeting.

“We recognize there’s going to be a workforce housing shortage,” the statement from the owners said. “Our intention with this property is to build a retirement home eventually.”

Fraser View Ventures provided counterpoints to some of the concerns from the permit’s objectors. For example, regarding COVID transmission concerns, Fraser View Ventures pledged to adhere to public health protocols. Behrens said the Trans Mountain work sites and camps are heavily regulated against the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s a two-page application just to drive on the lot,” he told council. “They get tested coming in and leaving when they go to work and when they go on their days off. In all reality, the COVID argument is really not applicable to this development.”

The owners also said due to underbrush clearing on the property and recent tree spacing work and installation of a water system, if anything, the proposed lot would be “safer than the surrounding area.”

READ ALSO: Hope residents get further details on TMX construction, Laidlaw worker camp

Chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky confirmed if Behrens so chooses, he can reapply for a temporary use permit in 12 months, but council can vary or waive this waiting period. As of publication, Fortoloczky said there is no such request.

In other council business, Brian LaCas delivered a presentation on LCI Engineering’s flood mitigation study. The study was designed to identify problem areas and ten potential projects to curb flood risks to the public.

“It’s a pretty exciting project, and we want it as a legacy project to protect the District of Hope,” LaCas said.

The council received and endorsed this report. Council will select one or more flood mitigation projects to fund, which include an extension for the Valhalla Dike along Highway 3 and an enhanced flood channel for the campground. From there, district staff will prepare grant applications to fund the prospective projects.

The council voted to extend a temporary shelter permit at 650 Old Hope Princeton Way to October 31, 2021.

Mayor Robb acknowledged the passing of legendary Hope artist Pete Ryan, who died on Jan. 8 at the age of 70.

“He was definitely one of a kind with a great sense of humour,” Robb said. “[He was] a great ambassador for our community, and he’ll be missed in [the chainsaw carving] industry.”

The next Council meeting will be Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. via Facebook Live at Facebook.com/DistrictOfHope.

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