Council endorses re-zoning of Quinsam Coal land

The land was recently added to the city boundary and will be zoned to match Quinsam’s other properties.

City council has endorsed a re-zoning of new Quinsam Coal lands that were recently brought into the city boundary.

At its Tuesday meeting, council gave first and second reading to a bylaw that, if eventually adopted, will rezone the property to a business and industrial service area.

That designation would make the lands, which were purchased by Quinsam Coal from TimberWest, consistent with the adjacent Quinsam Coal properties.

Cameron Salisbury, city planner, said the I-3 (Industrial) designation also aligns with nearby forestry operations in the area.

“Rezoning the subject lands I-3 is consistent with the OCP (Official Community Plan) as it allows for resource extraction and ancillary uses which is considered a heavy industrial use,” Salisbury said.

According to Quinsam Coal representatives who held a public meeting last month into the rezoning, the 140-acre site in question was purchased by Quinsam Coal in 2013 because TimberWest felt “subsidence (combined with nearby mining operations) could hinder their ability to harvest safely.”

The property was a part of the Strathcona Regional District and as such was zoned Upland Resource – a designation carried over from the regional district’s Oyster Bay-Buttle Lake Official Community Plan.

The lands were brought into the city boundary in 2015, however, after Quinsam Coal filed a petition to move the site into the City of Campbell River to help streamline operations and align the lands with the rest of Quinsam Coal’s properties already within the city boundary.

In July of 2015, the city obtained the approval of electors through an Alternate Approval Process (nine opposition forms were received but 2,417 were needed to defeat the proposal) and petitioned the province to extend the city boundary.

The boundary extension became official effective Dec. 17 2015.

The property is taxed at the city’s industrial tax rate and is expected to generate roughly $6,000 per year in property tax revenue for the city.

According to Quinsam Coal, most of the site is still forested land with no mining activity, with some physical land disturbance including the mine’s 7-South portal pit and haul roads.

Quinsam Coal says right now the plan is to leave the area forested as the mine is currently not operating and is in care and maintenance.

The company says that it does not have any plans to use the area and if mining was to begin again, it would use the 7-South portal.

In January, Quinsam Coal announced its decision to suspend coal production indefinitely due to a prolonged and steep decline in thermal coal prices, changes in market demand and policy disincentives.

Quinsam Coal started up in 1986 as an open pit mine but switched to underground mining in 1993 with open-pit mining ceasing completely in 1994.

The mine produced thermal coal that was sold to B.C.’s cement industry and to international cement and power-generating customers around the Pacific Rim.

Coal from the Quinsam mine was trucked to the Middle Point barge-loading facility north of Campbell River and then loaded onto barges for either direct shipment to the cement industry or shipment to Texada Island, where it is loaded onto ships for delivery to international customers.