PORT McNEILL—Town council gave first and second readings to a zoning amendment bylaw that could allow for a hotel or college in the downtown core.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw 654 addresses a request by the owners of the former Windsor Plywood warehouse and storefront on Broughton Blvd. The facility is on property currently zoned C-2 (commercial); the proposed bylaw would change that to a C-1 (commercial).
Commercial use of the property, including storefront space or trade schools, would be acceptable under either C-1 or C-2 classification. However, the owner had indicated the possibility of using the property for a hotel and/or college, both of which are permitted only under C-1 zoning.
“The economics will determine what’s there, whether it’s one piece or split up into different parts,” Mayor Gerry Furney said. “We may see this come up again. It will probably require some work to be done on the structure, but we’re lucky someone has bought it and is willing to do something with it.”
Coun. Gaby Wickstrom asked how the tax rates might differ in a switch from C-2 to C-1 zoning.
“It depends what’s built there,” treasurer Dan Rodin replied. “If it’s a college, they may be able to get a permissive exemption. If it’s a hotel, then probably not.”
Fire department increase
Council approved a request by fire chief Chris Walker to increase the statutory maximum number of volunteer firefighters from 26 to 30.
In a letter to council, Walker said recruitment has actually been strong in Port McNeill in recent years. However, due to shift and camp work and summer travel, the availability of firefighters on any given call can fluctuate substantially.
The last change in the volunteer fire department came in March of 1999 when the number was bumped from 25 to 26.
“I would support this,” said Wickstrom. “I’m looking at a policy in place since 1999; I think it’s time to bring them into the 21st century. It makes sense to me, for the safety of the community.”
The primary cost to the Town, besides ongoing department-wide training, is a $65 annual insurance fee for each firefighter. Administrator Sue Harvey noted the Town is already paying insurance for 28 firefighters, so the increase would be just $130 per year.
The motion passed unanimously.
Rangers get room
Council approved the rent-free use of a room in the Old School building for the Port McNeill patrol of the Canadian Rangers as they prepare to host a training exercise Friday through Sunday.
The Town will waive the normal rental fee of $140, as is typical for non-profit organizations, while charging the Rangers a $75 janitorial fee.
Typically, the Rangers leave town on back roads to hold training, but plan more of a presence in town this year.
“For this weekend, we are looking to conduct our exercise in a much more visible manner in an effort to generate some interest in our patrol and potentially increase our ranks through recruitment,” wrote Kevin Langlands, acting patrol commander.