Emotions high at public hearing

People spoke out about a proposal to re-zone Campbell River Common, allowing for boat and RV storage

Accusations were flying and some tempers flaring at a public hearing Tuesday night at City Hall.

Five people spoke out about Allan Edie’s proposal to re-zone his property to allow outdoor storage of boats, RVs and other vehicles in the back parking lot of the Campbell River Common shopping mall.

Most of the mall’s tenants support Edie, owner of Campbell River Common, but his competitors are concerned about nearby Nunns Creek.

Walter Jakeway, owner of Campbell River Storage, said he toured the Nunns Creek area with a Registered Professional, knowledgeable in Riparian Area Regulations. He said Nunns Creek has a 30-metre riparian zone on each side of the waterway to protect the fish habitat. Jakeway said as it stands, portions of the mall parking lot encroach about 20 metres into the Riparian Reserve Zone.

“This means that any uncontrolled discharges within that area could possibly impact the health of the creek and the riparian habitat,” Jakeway said. “Large RVs, boats and other vehicles operated and maintained by whomever pose a potential source of toxic material and contamination to the fish.”

Jakeway said the Nunns Creek reserve is already being squeezed from both sides by commercial activity and he doesn’t want to see further harm to sensitive fish stocks in the Campbell River area. He urged city council to conduct a full environmental risk assessment before allowing an outdoor storage facility.

However, Edie said the city tests the water in Nunns Creek twice a year and hires professionals to clean up the area.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s manager of operations, confirmed the city would not face any liability if it allowed the outdoor storage.

“There is a development permit process and all streams are identified as development permit areas,” Neufeld said. “A series of actions require a development permit process.”

However, Neufeld said Edie’s re-zoning proposal would not trigger the process because there is no physical change to the property being proposed.

Edie said Jakeway should have done his homework and tested the water before flinging around accusations.

“To Walter – smoke and mirrors,” Edie said. “To you, Walter, I say this is lip service, hypocrisy at its worst.”

Harold Long, a property manager at the 1180 Ironwood complex which houses the Access Centre, also took shots at Edie’s proposal.

“The vehicles will all leak pollutants and there’s nothing to stop them from running into the creek,” Long said. “There’s no form of catchment. To be putting used units in an area like that is just asking for disaster.”

But Edie said there is no cause for concern.

“If anything did leak, it’s not going to migrate to Nunns Creek – I’ve tested it,” Edie said. “There’s a negative grade away from the building. It’s ridiculous some of the comments.”

Supporters of Edie’s storage facility said the critics only seem to have their best interests in mind.

“Mr. Jakeway said that Campbell River should be more welcoming to new business coming to town but after what I’m hearing tonight, I feel this only applies to businesses not in competition with him,” said resident Val Larson. “Mr. Jakeway was quite smart to jump on the environmental issue, however these boats and RVs will also leak on the driveways.”

Terry Somerville, 88.7 Spirit FM general manager and Campbell River Common tenant, said he appreciates the work that Edie has already done in anticipation of an outdoor storage facility.

“When I first moved in there last winter, the back was not secure and there was garbage dumped in the parking lot regularly. There was also questionable activities going on in the parking lot in the evening,” Somerville said. “Since the fence has gone up there’s been a large improvement. It’s completely secure and safe. It looks like a whole different area.”

Edie said the installation of security cameras and a locked in compound will ensure any vehicles parked in storage will be protected.

Edie’s storage proposal is slated to be on Tuesday’s council agenda for discussion and possibly third reading.