The developer who wants to build a light industrial park at 4605 Columbia Ave. in south Castlegar has removed plans for a micro-cannabis production facility from their zoning application.
In late 2022, Kind Industries Ltd. requested that the 18-acre property across from The Brick and Ernie’s Used Auto Parts be rezoned from rural residential to industrial park. In addition, they asked that an indoor micro-cannabis production facility be permitted on the northern 12 acres of the property.
Castlegar’s official community plan designated the land as light industrial in 1988, but the city has never followed through with the rezoning.
The company hosted a public information meeting on Dec. 12 and heard from Blueberry residents who were opposed to the development based on a number of concerns including traffic, noise, odours and disruption to the more rural lifestyle they are used to.
Since that time, Kind Industries has eliminated the cannabis facility from their plans in an effort to satisfy residents.
At a July 17 public hearing on the zoning change, Kind Industries representative Jennifer Powers said, “We listened to the community and made our best effort to address those concerns.”
This also included removing some of the uses allowed in the industrial park zone from their application such as auto and truck repair shops, gas stations, fuel depots and recycling depots.
The remaining uses in the zoning designation include warehouses, wholesale stores, storage facilities, building supplies, auto and recreational vehicle dealers, car washes, freight stations, garden supplies, nurseries, animal hospitals/kennels and restaurants and offices.
At the hearing, several Blueberry residents again expressed concerns regarding traffic and noise.
City of Castlegar planner Shannon Marshall said a traffic impact analysis conducted by a third party has recommended the closure of the Columbia Ave (Hwy 22)/Dube Road intersection at the north end of the property due to sight line concerns and low usage. It suggested rerouting traffic to the Dube Road/Columbia Avenue intersection at the south end of the property.
Marshall reported the Transportation Ministry was satisfied with the results of the study related to the proposed development.
However, the city said it would require the developer to upgrade Dube Road to city standards before any development could proceed.
City staff have recommended that council approve the proposal.
Marshall said one benefit of the development would be drawing industrial businesses away from 6th Avenue between the Community Complex and 24th Street, which is strongly encouraged in the city’s OCP. The 6th Avenue area is designated as transitional in the OCP, a designation that encourages mixed commercial and residential uses instead of industrial. If industrial businesses moved out of the 6th Avenue area, that would free up more land for desperately needed housing.
Powers said the company has heard from several 6th Avenue businesses interested in relocating to the new development as well as several businesses looking to move to Castlegar including an electrical supply warehouse and a prefabricated home company.
She said the company plans to use a build-to-suit approach with the goal of attracting low-impact, eco-friendly tenants.
Marshall said that Castlegar’s current industrial sites are full and that the city has received a significant number of inquiries over the last few years from people looking for industrial properties.
City staff also noted alignment with the OCP, increasing economic diversity, and enabling expansion of the industrial sector as additional reasons for recommending approval.
However, staff recommend several conditions to the approval: securing a road right of way through the property, upgrading Dube Road and installing a 15-metre vegetation buffer strip along the south property line.
Powers indicated that the developers are willing to accommodate the buffer zone.
If council were to approve the zoning change at their Aug. 14 meeting, it would only be the first step in a long process before anything is actually built at the site.
Additional steps include meeting development regulations for servicing infrastructure, acquiring a development permit to regulate the form and character of the development including architectural, landscaping, screening, property access and parking plans. Extra studies such as environmental assessments may also be required and implemented prior to construction.