Bravo to Clearwater town council for its decision on Mar. 5 to table the re-zoning application for the proposed Bear View shopping center.
As outlined in the story on page A1, council didn’t go with a recommendation from staff to deny the application.
Neither did the council members give the re-zoning application their approval.
It might sound strange, but deciding not to decide was exactly the right thing to do at this stage in the process.
Clearwater has long suffered from its scattered layout – the result of the lack of planning, which in turn was the result of the lack of municipal status.
Now we have our own municipality and, more recently, a fully updated official community plan (OCP).
Ron Rotzetter and his team have put together an excellent set of plans for their proposed Bear View shopping center.
They have correctly identified that this community is missing untold millions in lost revenue because it does not have an adequate presence on Highway 5.
They have the right idea but the wrong location – maybe.
The OCP identifies the Wells Gray Gateway area around the junction of Highway 5 and the road to Wells Gray Park as Clearwater’s primary commercial development area. The proposed Bear View development would be at least one km east of there.
That’s a long walk if you’re carrying a shopping bag full of groceries or other items.
We could hope that the empty land between Bear View and the Gateway area will eventually fill in with other developments – just as we’ve been waiting for new developments to fill in between Clearwater’s existing commercial centers.
And if the empty land east of Clearwater Secondary School develops as a commercial center, how would it be serviced? It probably wouldn’t be a simple matter of connecting to the existing water and sewer lines, because those lines likely would need to be upgraded. And maybe we’d need a new well or sewage lagoon. Who would pay for that?
The temptation just to go with the recommendation to deny must have been strong.
Council didn’t go that way, however. One reason seemed to be because Rotzetter had said there was no land available within the proposed Gateway area that was large enough and/or without restrictive covenants.
It makes no sense to require all commercial development to take place within a certain defined area if the owners of the land within that area are limiting what development can take place there.
By tabling the re-zoning application, council kept its options open.
The owners of Safety Mart have indicated they intend to build a new shopping center that would be within the Gateway area.
If it goes ahead as planned, it would help fill in the empty spaces between Clearwater’s commercial cores.
If it doesn’t go ahead, then council can consider encouraging the development of a new commercial core to be located east of CSS.