Acquisition endorsed by city staff

140-hectare site is currently in the Strathcona Regional District’s jurisdiction

City staff are recommending council approve a vote from residents on whether or not to move a piece of property from the Strathcona Regional District into the City of Campbell River.

The property in question is owned by TimberWest but Quinsam Coal has signed a purchase agreement to buy the property.

The 140-hectare site is currently in the regional district’s jurisdiction but the mining company wants to bring it into the city boundary in order to deal with just one local government. The rest of Quinsam Coal’s property lies within the city.

Tracy Bate, the city’s deputy city clerk, said before it can proceed with extending the city boundaries to encapture the land, the city is legislated by the province to get the approval of registered voters. Prior to Tuesday’s council meeting – which took place after the Mirror went to press – Bate was recommending council use the Alternate Approval Process.

“The Alternate Approval Process would permit council to proceed with the boundary extension so long as no more than 10 per cent of the city’s electors object by signing an elector response form,” Bate wrote in a report to council.

That amounts to 2,417 people who would need to sign an opposition form and return it to City Hall in order for the approval to not go through.

If the boundary extension is approved by both voters and the province, the property will be taxed at the city’s industrial tax rate and is expected to generate roughly $6,600 per year in property tax revenue for the city.

The Strathcona Regional District signed off on the boundary extension proposal in late March, but its board of directors was nearly split with six of 13 directors opposed, including Area D Director Brenda Leigh who said she needed more information.

Gary Gould, general manager of Quinsam Coal, told the city in a letter that the company intends to expand its operations into the TimberWest property which shares a border with lands previously purchased by Quinsam Coal.

If the expansion does go through, however, operations likely won’t begin right away as Quinsam Coal announced last week that it will be suspending all coal mining activity for eight weeks, starting July 1.