Kalesnikoff Lumber’s plans for a new office building have hit a few procedural bumps, but the company says it is still planning on going ahead with the project.
In order to build the new building, Kalesnikoff had to apply to the Regional District of Central Kootenay for amendments to the Official Community Plan and for a new zoning designation for a portion of its property.
The property in question is located in RDCK Area I, across the highway from the company’s sawmill operations, between the Tarrys Fire Hall and Russell Auction.
Kalesnikoff’s chief financial officer Krystle Seed, who along with her brother Chris Kalesnikoff make up the fourth generation of Kalesnikoffs running the mill, says the company’s intentions are to provide a better work environment for their employees.
The current office building was built in the 1970s and expansions have been done by adding on ATCO trailers.
“We really value the people that work here,” said Seed. “We want to be giving them nice spaces to be working in… There are so many technologies in place now that we could be offering our employees a nice, healthy, enjoyable workspace.”
As the company has introduced more technology to its operations, there has also been a shift to needing more office staff such as computer technicians, GIS technicians and sales representatives, increasing the need for more office space.
The proposed building is two stories tall and about 7,000 square feet. It would house the sales, woodlands, IT, administration and finance departments. The plan is to build it out of mass timber wood, using the company’s own products as much as possible and to meet passive house standards.
The application was first made at the end of 2017 and passed first and second readings at the RDCK board in Feburary 2018.
From there it went to the public consultation and hearing stage. The proposal then passed its third reading in May.
Adoption of the zoning and OCP amendments was on the RDCK board agenda for July 19, but that is where things started to get complicated.
A group of six conditions to move forward on the project was tabled at the meeting, some put forward by staff and some put forward by Area I director Andy Davidoff.
After a period of discussion around the board table, the idea was presented that the best way to move forward and ensure the new criteria was met would be to rescind the previous passing of the third reading and send the project back to another public information session and public hearing.
Davidoff told the Castlegar News that it was not his intention going into the meeting to rescind the third reading, but rather just to add some conditions and delay approval until they were met.
“It kind of became a procedural mess at the board table,” acknowledged Davidoff.
But there was a problem with the conditions. After staff had a thorough look at them, it was determined that four of them were “deemed to fall outside of the scope of the development proposal and determined to fall outside of the scope of the requirements and concerns expressed by the public and referral agencies.”
“Staff went to legal and said, ‘Can we do this?’” explained Davidoff. “Two [conditions] were appropriate, the other four they recommended against.”
Those conditions were removed at the RDCK board meeting held Oct. 18.
One of the removed conditions Davidoff asked for was a “restrictive covenant” that would prohibit further expansion of industrial use by the applicant west of Highway 3A.
The staff report included in the board agenda explains that the RDCK cannot compel an applicant to place restrictive covenants on lands that are not currently under a development proposal.
Another condition asked that Kalesnikoff acquire a letter from Interior Health (IH) confirming the project would not negatively affect the community’s aquifer.
The problem with that condition was that IH had already been consulted during the initial application process and did not express any concerns regarding the aquifer.
Davidoff said he added the condition regarding the aquifer because IH had expressed concern about it regarding a proposed development just down the road from Kalesnikoff Lumber at the Tarrys School site.
A requirement for a highway access permit from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) was removed because Kalesnikoff had already obtained one.
The requirement that a traffic impact assessment be completed to look at the need for a crosswalk and traffic controls was removed because MOTI had not requested one during initial consultations. In addition, MOTI had already included in their referral comments that a crosswalk cannot be considered due to traffic speeds.
MOTI also stated in their referral that the design of the proposed office building and parking area would actually reduce the number of pedestrians crossing the highway and ensure adequate parking for all staff well out of the right-of-way of the highway.
The main concerns voiced by residents during the consultation process had to do with elevated noise levels that might result from the development due to tree removal and construction, and fears that further development of the sawmill might occur as a result of the office relocation.
The noise issues are being addressed by one of the remaining conditions that requires an assessment by an acoustical engineer and a mitigation plan to address noise issues.
Seed said the company has hired an acoustical engineer to provide a report about the potential changes in noise levels.
“We will make sure we have that [noise issue] answered to the point where people have a level of comfort with it.” she said. “If there is any impact, we are going to see how we can mitigate that.
“There are neighbours around us that have concerns, and we want to try to make sure we respond to those concerns,” she added.
The last remaining condition asks for a refined concept plan for the proposed development that inludes landscaping and screening features.
Seed says Kalesnikoff is working on developing the more comprehensive plan to submit to the regional district.
A date has yet to be set for the next public information session.