A letter to the editor, “Clearwater town council does not support economic development,” in last week’s Times did not tell both sides of the story, according to Mayor John Harwood.
“It’s not that we’re against development,” the mayor said, “but we need to be very guarded in a small community about what the long term implications of development might be.”
The letter, from Ron Rotzetter of Bearview Development Inc., outlined the difficulties being faced in trying to develop a new shopping centre next to Highway 5 about 1.6 km east of the roundabout.
Harwood emphasized that he cannot discuss everything because of confidentiality concerns, but said the biggest issue with the proposal is the lack of commercial highway access.
Highway access is a provincial matter and District of Clearwater does not control that, he said.
Several meetings have been held with the highways department and the latest proposal he has seen would have a limited access near Kal Tire, which would result in people also using Woreby Road and Park Drive to enter and leave the shopping centre.
The proponents also have not completed a neighborhood plan, the mayor said. At least some of those who live near the proposed development have let the District know they do not support it, he said.
A statement in the letter that a water main runs through the property is not entirely correct, according to the mayor. In fact, the nearest main is at the edge of the property.
It was also not correct to say that there is a sewer line right beside the property. In fact, the nearest sewer is on Park Drive, some distance away and with the Trans Mountain pipeline in between.
The District has never been officially told by the pipeline’s owners, Kinder Morgan, that it supports the proposal, the mayor said.
Connecting the sewer to the proposed development would mean putting it over or under the pipeline. Both options would be expensive.
Clearwater has suffered through a lack of planning. Four years were spent in developing an official community plan (OCP) for the new municipality.
The District needs to be careful about approving a development because it could get caught with paying the costs of infrastructure if the development fails and no new taxes came in.
“You need to be careful about what you take in,” Harwood said. “What might seem like an asset can turn into a liability.”
Developer replies to mayor’s comments
Editor, The Times:
In reply to the interview with Mayor Harwood (on page A3) in response to our letter “Clearwater town council does not support economic development.”
First of all, we would like to address the comment of Mayor Harwood stating that we need to be very guarded in a small town. Doesn’t a small town always stay small if there is no development? The long term implications would only benefit the town, as more tax will be collected on commercial property.
This property, by the way, is located one km east of the roundabout, not 1.6 km.
Commercial access has been discussed with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, highway engineers and architects. Lots of money and time has been spend on traffic impact assessment. The TIA got approval from the neighbouring properties for an easement to align the backage road with the hospital and off the highway, so it would be within highway regulations to make the access work. The District of Clearwater is well aware of this as they have been presented with letters indicating this outcome.
With regards to the neighbourhood plan, it was agreed between all parties – including the District of Clearwater – to clear the OCP amendment before spending more money on the neighbourhood plan. So it somewhat surprises us to see this comment from the mayor.
We also would like to know what the significance is of having the water main running through the property. It is on the property line and there is no cost – other than to the developer – to bring water from the main line to the building.
The sewer line is on Park Drive and it was discussed and confirmed with the DOC superintendent at the time that the line is double the adequate size to handle the projected daily flows. Again, there would be no cost to the DOC to take the sewer line to the pumping station.
As far as Kinder Morgan: Clearly stated in previous letters to the DOC is the fact that Kinder Morgan has no issues with having the sewer line going under the pipeline. As a matter of fact, we’ve been informed by Kinder Morgan that this is quite a common practice.
The four years that Clearwater has suffered a lack of planning are not over yet. Property with residential buildings is zoned as commercial and vice versa.
Last but not least! For the mayor to speculate failure of a developing business definitely shows the “optimism” and “enthusiasm” from the District of Clearwater towards this project!
Was the new Clearwater Shopping Centre met with this type of negativity as well?
Bearview Development Inc.