Canal Flats is investigating the potential of one of its greatest resources: available land.
At Canal Flat’s last Council meeting Monday, May 28th, Council voted to hire a firm to develop an industrial land strategy. B&A Planning Group pitched a strategy that offered good value in their proposal, wrote Adrian Bergles, Canal Flats chief administrative officer, in his report to Council. The same company was also hired two weeks prior to conduct an Official Community Plan and zoning bylaw development for the village.
“They had an excellent proposal, in both respects, and offered a lot,” Mr. Bergles told the Pioneer.
The company will study Canal Flat’s industrial land, and promises to work with the Village and the current landowner (Brian Fehr, who purchased the former Canfor lands in Canal Flats), to investigate possibilities for future development, and even host a lunch in Calgary for prospective investors towards the end of the four-month project.
Jonathan Schmidt, B&A senior municipal planner, says Canal Flats is well-situated for future growth potential.
“The geographic location is incredible, for sure, and that’s really getting to be somewhat rare within a three to four hour window of Calgary (or) Kelowna,” said Mr. Schmidt.
In the OCP project proposal, B&A writes: “We truly believe Canal Flats has the necessary foundations to become a vibrant community with a strong economic base. The Village is located amongst beautiful natural surroundings, contains available serviced land, is located along a busy primary highway and has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. We believe the OCP/Zoning Bylaw project can be a catalyst to help the Village achieve its economic development strategies of (a) recreational property owners call us home (b) nurture entrepreneurship and (c) create employment centre lands.”
The Village hired an outside agency to work on the land strategy because, like many small municipalities, they do not have a planner on staff, explained Mr. Bergles. He says the industrial land strategy will “identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities etc., related to that land.”
Mayor Ute Juras says working with B&A Planning on both projects should be a good fit for the village.
“They come with good credentials; we’re very happy to be working with them,” said Ms. Juras. “They’re very engaged, and looking at engaging the public as well as us, so I’m excited to have them come on board.”
Mr. Schmidt says working togther on the land strategy and the OCP / zoning will help create a comprehensive strategy moving forward.
“The OCP provides a guidance on the whole municipality; it’s the overarching community plan for the whole municipality, and that includes industrial land plans,” said Mr. Schmidt. “The OCP and zoning bylaw, it’s really great they’re tied together. The OCP is much more of a visioning document – a higher level policy. The zoning bylaw really implements it (the vision).”
The industrial lands strategy needs to fit into the overall community plan, he explained. Mr. Schmidt emphasized a lot of great work has already been done in the village through the economic development strategy in 2016.
“The OCP/zoning bylaw engagement, and industrial land strategy, will look to implement the goals and vision of that strategy from 2016. So we’re not starting from scratch. I think it’s a key message to the community, is we’re going to build off existing momentum, and see how implement goals that have already been agreed upon,” says Mr. Schmidt.
He promises that, through this process, the community will be consulted. Already last weekend at Canal Days, B&A Planning had a booth set up to engage the public.
The funding for the land strategy redesign (coming in at $59,891.16) and the OCP/zoning bylaw development ($99,843.58) came from BC Rural Dividend Funding and federal gas tax funding.