City council has approved the formation of two new task forces designed to rejuvenate forestry in the community and to come up with a plan for the city’s prestigious waterfront property.
The task forces were first announced by Mayor Andy Adams in his inaugural address last December as the new council came into office.
Adams said at last week’s Monday council meeting that the city’s search for a new city manager and other business had temporarily put the two task forces on the back burner.
“It’s been a long time coming but we’ve been busy with a number of things,” Adams said. “I know there are people who are champing at the bit to get going on these.”
The first, the Forestry Task Force, will meet with all the forest-based companies in Campbell River and on the Island to seek guidance in developing recommendations for council on how the city can create a community that supports existing forestry business and, at the same time, attract new forestry capital.
Adams said in his inaugural address that the forestry industry is an opportunity the city needs to seize on.
“We have neglected this sector for the past three years and it is my intention to work to revive this industry in Campbell River,” Adams said at the time.
The city did have a Future of Forestry Task Force when current Coun. Charlie Cornfield was mayor but that fell by the wayside following the 2011 election when former mayor Walter Jakeway took office.
Cornfield said at last week’s council meeting that he was very much in support of resurrecting the forestry task force, as well as establishing Adams’ other task force – a group to be tasked with coming up with development options for the city’s 3.5 acre waterfront site.
Adams said the purpose of the 3.5 acre task force is to “develop, complete and recommend a plan to council that ensures that the public interests and amenities for the site are respected and compliment the downtown and waterfront revitalization strategic plans and the Campbell River Indian Band’s vision for its neighbouring six acre site.”
Members that sit on the task force will be asked to participate in community engagement and work in cooperation with the city’s First Nations partner.
The 3.5 acre property is currently a sand pit between Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre and the Quadra Island ferry terminal. The land is one of three parcels that, when combined with two neighbouring parcels belonging to the Campbell River Indian Band, make up 9.5 acres.
What to do with the site has been a hot topic at City Hall for more than 20 years. The previous council, under Jakeway, hired consultants to host a public engagement session and prepare a report on recommendations for the property. According to the report, the majority of those who attended the public session supported converting the waterfront property into a public space.
While no council has yet to make a decision on what to do with the property, the previous council last year did approve a draft of 18 guiding principles with respect to development of the property. Those principles include: connecting the property to the rest of the downtown core; emphasizing pedestrian priority over vehicles; consideration of public amenity space; consideration of residential and mixed use development with significant public park space; ensuring a First Nations identity; having public views to the water, and others.
Adams said the newly formed 3.5 acre task force will have one year to forward its recommendations to council and will be led by himself and Coun. Marlene Wright, who will serve as non-voting co-chairs on the task force. Coun. Cornfield will serve as the non-voting chairperson of the Forestry Task Force. Terms of reference for both task forces are expected to go before council at its next meeting, on Nov. 23.