THOMAS KERVIN PHOTO Port Hardy councillor John Tidbury reads from a document at the 6:00 p.m. public hearing.

Concerns raised at District of Port Hardy’s public hearing over potential RV Park by the Airport Inn

Three Port Hardy councillors were on hand to field questions and comments from the public.

Noise, litter, and environmental impacts to nearby forest and streams were some of the concerns raised at a public hearing the District of Port Hardy held last Wednesday.

The public hearing was held to listen to any possible concerns locals may have about the rezoning of 4030 Byng Road property, more commonly known as the Airport Inn.

The zoning amendment, Bylaw No. 1094-2019, would change the private property from a C-2 Service Commercial to a C-5 Tourist Commercial, which would essentially allow the owners to expand their business onto the back of the property. The owners expressed plans to use the space for an RV Park, noted a staff report submitted a few months ago. Currently, the zoning allows for many commercial uses like establishing a cannabis retailer, funeral home, or motor vehicle rentals and repairs. The business, however, only operates a licensed cold beer and wine store, restaurant and hotel. Once rezoned, the business could then possibly operate a campground and tourist cabin.

Three councillors, Pat Corbett-Labatt, Janet Dorward and John Tidbury were on hand to field questions and comments from the public.

Three residents expressed concerns about the application.

“I am opposed to the District of Port Hardy Zoning Bylaw (No. 1094-2019),” said Lilian Meerveld, who lives on Byng Road, having noted that her “enjoyment and the value of the adjacent property will be adversely affected.”

She mentioned that many of the trees nearby or on the property were already cleared prior to the application. “Within weeks of the clearing, several trees blew down across my fence.”

She added it’s still unconfirmed who was responsible for the clearing, or whether it was related to the zoning amendment application.

She did, however, note that it resulted in damaging her yard and risking injury to her animals and herself. “There was no prior blow down in the two years I have lived here, despite much more severe storms. I believe the applicant’s clearing left the trees behind my property vulnerable to blow down.”

Meerveld continued, noting, “I hear a chorus of frogs put on each night as they wake up after the winter’s frost. With RV generators next door, the constant hum will be unpleasant compared to the quiet summer nights that I have experienced in the backyard. In the summer months, the noise is already louder with the hotel guests being outside on hot summer nights, socializing. If there is an RV park, this will be twice as loud, and will keep my granddaughter and I awake on summer nights.”

As well, she added that there may be an increase in garbage and beer cans along the airport beach. “The number of “beach users will be much increased, and there will be more garbage, beer cans, and fires left burning” if the rezoning goes through.

She also expressed concern over the possibility of her property value going down because of the RV park. However, she did note that while she has personal concerns over the rezoning, she is “all for Port Hardy having more tourism, but not at the expense of the one quiet and peaceful area left in Port Hardy.”

Property owner Stan McLennan raised questions over the airport flight path and whether an RV park may be in violation of regulations set out by the federal government.

He’s also concerned over the trees adjacent to the property he owns next to the Airport Inn. McLennan noted that the trees referred to in the letter made by the business owner may not originate on their property, so any clearing of the trees nearby may be in violation of provincial or federal laws if it were conducted privately.

He noted that there is a creek that runs along the back of all of Byng Road. “20 years ago there was an employment program to clean the streams,” he said. During the program workers found that the creek was “indicated as a fish bearing stream.” Whether the creek is considered fish bearing today is yet to be determined, though it is confirmed that there are wetlands near the property. The rezoning does not violate any regulations or bylaws set out by the district in regards to the wetlands.

He was at ease compared to other residents about the possible noise coming from the hotel and a would-be RV park: “If there is an issue with the noise from the hotel, well that’s what hotels do,” he said.

The proposal does not violate the Official Community Plan for the town, noted the staff report penned by Director of Corporate Services Heather Nelson-Smith, who stated that “the application is supported through the District’s bylaws.” Before the public hearing five residents immediately impacted or within 50 metres of the nearby property were mailed a notice of the public hearing.

Kwakiutl First Nation’s economic development officer Jeff Munroe attended the 1:00 p.m. public hearing, noting that he has concerns over the adjacent creek and possible environmental impacts made by the rezoning and subsequent developing of an RV park. Munroe did state, however, that the “Kwakiutl First Nation is not opposed to the development,” but the band administration “just wants to ensure the preservation of the natural environment.”

The district will now consider the concerns made by Port Hardy locals, though no official comments can be made during or after the public hearing until the council has come to a decision on the rezoning amendment.

– Thomas Kervin article

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