By Lyonel Doherty
A group of industrial property owners in Oliver presented Town council with a petition on Monday.
The petition called for council to keep gravel crushing, material screening and aggregate storage as permitted uses in the new draft zoning bylaw.
Chris Jentsch, on behalf of the majority of industrial land owners, said every other jurisdiction in the Okanagan allows these uses that are deemed “necessary for everyday life.”
Jentsch noted it would be counter intuitive for Town councillors to curb economic potential in Oliver, especially in an industrial zone where these activities have existed without problems.
Jentsch pointed out the major investment that business owners make in Oliver.
To rezone a livelihood and prevent it from being sold is “not only devastating to those individuals but sends a very bad
signal to anyone even contemplating coming to Oliver to invest,” Jentsch said.
But council decided to include gravel crushing (in the M1 zone) as part of draft zoning bylaw 1380. It also directed staff to amend the Official Community Plan (OCP) to reflect this.
Councillor Petra Veintimilla opposed this motion.
Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan explained that during the recent review of the OCP, council made a request for gravel crushing to be removed as a permitted use in the General Industrial (M1) zone.
Consequently, when the new OCP bylaw was adopted in March of 2017, it included an action item to remove this use from the M1 zone.
As a result, the new draft bylaw did not include gravel crushing as a permitted use.
However, given the more recent direction provided by council, this use will be permitted again.
Mayor Ron Hovanes said council permitted gravel crushing on the Jentsch property a long time ago and there were no complaints about it. In fact, there are more complaints about sawdust than gravel crushing, he pointed out.
Veintimilla questioned why gravel crushing should be put back in as a permitted use when the activity only occurs once in awhile.
Councillor Dave Mattes said the Town wants to encourage business growth, but not permitting gravel crushing would take that opportunity away.