The site of the proposed temporary worker accommodation in Sparwood. Source: District of Sparwood

Public hearing scheduled for Sparwood worker camp

District of Sparwood considers temporary use permit for 114-bed camp at 8000 Highway 43

Tomorrow night, Sparwood residents will have their say on a temporary worker accommodation camp proposed for the mining town.

Richard and Cindy Joyce Pater have applied for a temporary use permit for a 114-bed camp at 8000 Highway 43.

Edmonton-based company GNS Industrial Trailer Services will build the camp, which the Paters say will meet a short term housing need in Sparwood, accommodating workers for various projects over the next two to three years.

LOOK BACK: Temporary housing proposed in Sparwood

The camp is proposed for an 8.5ha lot north of Sparwood Heights along Highway 43 and has in principle approval from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

LOOK BACK: District of Sparwood hits pause on temporary housing project

It will include a full kitchen with three meals provided per day, as well as a recreation room and dormitories with private washrooms.

In his report to council, the District’s Manager of Planning Jeremy Johnston explained temporary use permits may be issued for up to three years and renewed once with council’s approval.

After the camp is closed, the applicants say the site will be ready for a modular residential development. Johnston said there is no proposal for such a development at this stage.

He recognized the need for a long-term solution to accommodating temporary workers.

“With many workers temporarily moving to Sparwood, we see this as an opportunity to make a long-term investment in housing that could be repurposed after these workers move onto different communities,” he said.

“A long-term option would be more favourable to the general community, would benefit from existing municipal services and infrastructure, and would be possible on several vacant or underutilized parcels already zoned, and serviced, for that use.”

Johnston said the applicants’ claim there is a need for housing is backed up by District’s 2018 Vacancy Rate Study and the 2012 Elkford and Sparwood Housing Need and Demand Assessment.

In March, The Free Press reported Sparwood’s rental vacancy rate had plunged to an 18-year low of 1.3 per cent.

However, Johnston also identified a number of issues with the application, such as the need for water and wastewater system approval.

At the May 21 regular meeting, Council authorized that notices be delivered to the owners and occupants residing within 60 metres of 8000 Highway 43 and mailed to all residents of Sparwood to advise them that Council will be considering issuing a temporary use permit for the project at the June 18 regular meeting.

A public hearing has been scheduled for June 4 at 6 p.m. at the Leisure Centre Community Hall.

Mayor David Wilks said he anticipates a big turnout after about 30 people attended the May 21 meeting.

“I think that the public want to be heard with regards to a worker camp being within the District of Sparwood and the only way for Mayor, and Council to facilitate that in a legal way is to have a public hearing, so that every person that speaks, their questions and answers are recorded and that’s not done in normal council proceedings,” he said.

Wilks added that Council will make their decision based on information received at the public hearing, so it is imperative that people attend.

Residents can also submit their comments in writing to the District, Box 520, Sparwood, BC V0B 2G0 or by email to sparwood@sparwood.ca before noon on June 4.

Other District of Sparwood news

Sparwood Market looks to expand

At the May 21 meeting, Jessica Wheeler and Crissy Riegert provided an update on the Sparwood Market. They indicated that more space was needed for food trucks and asked if the trucks would be able to park on Aspen Drive, which would open more spots for vendors. They also requested moving the Children’s Market to Lions Park on August 23, so that they could incorporate more kid-friendly activities. Council referred their requests to staff to provide them with recommendations by the June 18 regular meeting.

Council adopts cannabis fines

Municipal Ticket Information (MTI) Bylaw 1233, 2018, Amendment Bylaw 1254, 2019 was adopted. This amendment provides for enforcement by municipal ticket for violations regulated under the Clean Air Bylaw and in relation to the operation of cannabis retail stores.

Public hearing scheduled for off-leash dog park

A public hearing has been scheduled for an off-leash dog park proposed in Sparwood. At the May 21 meeting, Council provided first reading to Official Community Plan Bylaw 1165, 2015, Amendment Bylaw 1239, 2019 and first and second reading to Zoning Bylaw No. 264, 1981, Amendment Bylaw 1240, 2019. The bylaw amendments propose to allow for the development of an off-leash dog park at 441 Pine Avenue.

Anyone living within a 60-metre radius of this property who believes they will be affected by these amendments are encouraged to attend the hearing on June 18 at 6 p.m. or submit their comments in writing to the District Office or by email to sparwood@sparwood.ca before noon on June 18.

District supports Sparwood Fresh Food Share

Council authorized Mayor Wilks to provide a letter of support to Sparwood Fresh Food Share to include in their grant application to Interior Health. The organization is applying for funding to hire an employee to pick up fresh food seven days a week from businesses around the community who agree to donate. This new program will offer fresh food such as bakery items, deli meats, eggs and produce to the users of the Sparwood Food Bank.

For more Sparwood news, visit Sparwood.ca.

Editor’s note: The Free Press previously reported there were long-term benefits to the temporary worker accommodation camp. Currently, there are no applications before the District of Sparwood for a long-term development beyond the three-year temporary use permit.

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