What is Planning for Major Projects?
From 2014 – 2017, there was significant hypereconomic activity proposed for the Prince Rupert region, namely related to several large-scale LNG proponents seeking to develop in our area. Due to proposed growth, the City collected information about the impacts of having one or more major projects in Prince Rupert. Other communities who have hosted major projects have felt impacts to population, housing, infrastructure, services, as well as their social fabric. After looking at those communities, and potential impacts to our own, the City set in motion plans to accommodate major projects—to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by growth, mitigate the potential negative impacts, and ensure that the community will have say in shaping our collective future.
Although these steps were initiated as a response to hypereconomic activity – a thorough review of local infrastructure needs, land use plans, demands on the local housing market, and potential local development opportunities has meant that Council and Administration are now better equipped to determine strategic priorities moving ahead. They have also prepared our community with information that has enabled us to apply for grant funds, advocate for improved affordable housing opportunities, inform policy development, and develop sound asset management plans. As expansion continues at the port of Prince Rupert, and the local economy and population grows, this information will continue to improve governance, oversight, and planning in our municipality.
To prepare for growth, City Council and Staff have taken several steps:
1. Completed “Go Plan” survey to collect ‘baseline’/current information from residents on housing, population, land base, and more.
2. Commissioned a report on the physical infrastructure requirements needed to accommodate LNG development. KPMG report.
3. Commissioned a report detailing the status of all City infrastructure, and launched the “Re:Build Rupert” initiative with updates to the community about the work that’s being undertaken. Re:Build Rupert
4. Hired the Community Development Initiative under the “Redesign Rupert” banner to conduct an 18-month community engagement process around what outcome Rupertites want to see from development. Re:Design Rupert
5. In January of 2016, the Mayor created a Council committee that developed policies and strategies that will help us to manage the way that growth plays out in the community. The intent of the resulting Interim Land Use Policy Framework is to identify appropriate areas for future development, create policy that addresses funding to non-market housing, and policy to maintain and enhance the character of local neighborhoods. You can find a copy of that Interim Land Use Policy Framework here.
Please note – These Interim Land Use Policies have been developed to serve as Council’s statement of intent with regards to management of potential impacts of proposed projects, and associated development therein. Further details related to these policies and their enforcement will be implemented through the adoption and amendment of associated bylaws.
As our economy grows, the City is creating clear plans and guidelines to provide developers, project proponents and other levels of government moving forward to ensure that the community sees maximum benefit and minimal impacts.
Why didn’t the City just rely on the Environmental Assessment Process?
Major projects of a certain size are required to go through an environmental assessment (EA) process by the Federal and Provincial. The intent of the EA process is to look at the potential environmental impacts of a project, and set up requirements for the project proponent to mitigate potential negative impacts of their operations. However, the City feels that the EA process marginalizes the socio-economic impacts of development — and may not adequately address municipal impacts if a project is outside the municipal boundary. For this reason the City has chosen to collect our own information on things like population, housing and infrastructure to be provided to the Provincial and Federal EA offices in project assessments.
What if LNG doesn’t happen?
City Council and staff have ensured that the policies and plans developed are just good practice in general. If LNG growth does not materialize, the fact remains that we will still need to upgrade our infrastructure, and lay out a plan for the community going forward. Our Hays 2.0 City Vision statement laid out a goal to “Redesign Rupert”. Collecting good information, updating our local plans and policies put us one step closer to realizing that vision. LNG development makes the needs we have more immediate, but either way, the work that we are doing will help to set the stage for Prince Rupert’s future.
The City developed a number of infographic materials to assist residents in understanding the Planning for Major Projects initiative, as well as associated land use planning efforts. See below for these materials
Understanding City Responsibilities
Why Plan for Major Projects? (Original Article in Northern View April 6th, 2016)
Explaining how the City's Interim Policies Respond to Growth (Original Article in Northern View April 27th, 2016)