LETTER: Against rezoning of Johnstone Road property

From the Friends of Johnstone Road

Re: Residents criticize tech company’s plans for property on Nelson’s North Shore, June 3

The Friends of Johnstone Road support economic development, including Valid Manufacturing, but only if they are located in an industrialized zone similar to the area they occupy in Salmon Arm. What we do not support is changing the zoning of a public property in the middle of a residential area from institutional to M1 Light Industrial zoning.

This application for light industrial zoning is contrary to the RDCK Official Community Plan and would forever change the tone and cohesion of the Johnstone Road neighbourhood, allowing the property to be used for any of the approximately 30 light industrial M1 uses such as welding shop, service station or truck depot.

Ministry of Education policy and the government surplus property program requires a school district to first consider disposing of a property “by sale or long-term lease to a local government, community agency or organization for alternate community uses, potentially at less than fair market value.”

Previous practice has resulted in eight school properties across SD8 being disposed of for community use.

Contrary to this past practice, SD8 rejected a proposal/offer from a well-established local daycare and instead accepted a $1.12-million purchase offer from an industrial manufacturing company.

Despite requiring a zoning change to fulfill their business plan, Valid Manufacturing purchased the property without a subject to zoning change clause and proceeded to announce in the Nelson Star that they will be using the property for high-tech manufacturing. It seems that Valid Manufacturing’s confidence they would get the required zoning change stems from support by the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership (NAEDP), which includes a number of RDCK directors. Clearly the independence of the RDCK board of directors, which will make the zoning decision, is compromised when considering zoning applications supported by the NAEDP.

The Friends of Johnstone Road are deeply concerned about the flawed process, bias and conflict of interest connected to the sale of this property.

Friends of Johnstone Road