Industrial bylaw plans stir ire

New winners and losers projected from policy changes

A small but vocal group of islanders turned out Monday for a final open house session on draft industrial zoning bylaws, where residents peppered Salt Spring Islands Trust planning staff with questions about the proposed changes.

Members of the public who attended the evening session registered ongoing concerns with the process by which the Industrial Advisory Planning Commission identified properties for new zoning and the potential results of such actions.

Brian McLeod, assistant manager of Gulf Coast Materials, pointed out the Rainbow Road cement plant is currently the only Salt Spring property zoned for heavy industrial use. The proposed bylaw would add another such property housing a Stewart Road mechanics yard to the new General Employment 3 category, giving the owners the new ability to host a cement factory, bulk fuel storage and waste material storage, plus a wide range of other uses.

McLeod said losing the privilege of being the only heavy industrial-zoned property would negatively impact the Rainbow Road site’s value and its owner’s investment.

“The potential for industrial uses on our site hasn’t been used to its fullest — and now we’re creating more sites in other areas of the island,” McLeod said.

Island Trust planner Rob Milne is the latest person to take on a file that has seen work by consultants Island Planning Services and independent contractor Chloe Fox over the past two years.

The proposed changes to Salt Spring’s land use bylaw and official community plan come as the result of a needs assessment completed in August 2013 and a special commission that tabled its final report in November 2014.

Major aspects of the Blueprint Toward a Working Community report are the simplification of commercial and industrial zones into a few categories under the new General Employment term and policies that encourage intensifying use on existing industrial properties, rather than increasing the number of properties where industry might occur. The goal is to meet the island’s industrial land needs over the next 25 years.

For much more on this story, see the Aug. 2, 2017 issue of the Driftwood newspaper or subscribe online.

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