Residents of the Van Bien neighbourhood have focused their attention in recent weeks east, toward the intersection of Highways 97 and 16.
That’s where Casino Hollywood owner John Major proposes to develop a new destination casino and hotel. Major has committed to working with the neigbourhood to address their concerns about the development.
But, just when they thought they were beginning to work out their differences with Major, residents may have to start looking west to the intersection of Highway 16 and Ferry Ave.
That’s the land where the Prince George headquarters of Telus sit, land that is now up for sale as the telecommunications company prepares to cut its workforce by up to 35 per cent.
“It’s probably fairly safe to say that at least some of the concerns we’ve raised [with Major’s proposal] would apply in that case as well,” said Van Bien resident Richard Duval.
The neighbourhood is concerned with a number of things, including noise, crime, loss of privacy and especially the possibility of a strip mall development.
The chances of a big box retailer, similar to Costco or Home Depot, locating on the 6.33-acre site is remote, said Dan Milburn, manager of current planning with the city.
The site is currently zoned only for a public utility. Anyone else wishing to develop the land would have to request a zoning change.
In order to build any kind of large scale commercial development, they would also have to get city council to agree to changes to the Official Community Plan. Regional commercial development is only targeted to the north side of Highway 16 in the OCP, said Milburn.
Duval, who had not heard the Telus land is up for sale when contacted, said he couldn’t predict how the neighbourhood would react. But he said it would likely come up for discussion at the next community meeting.
Meanwhile, Major’s application to rezone the land behind the tourist information centre comes before council Monday night.
If the application is successful, council will give it first two readings the same night. A public hearing will follow at a later date in conjunction with third reading.
Major did meet his own deadline of two weeks to respond to neighbourhood concerns when he met with residents on Wednesday. Marketing Director Craig Briere said Major would deliver final responses to residents by no later than Monday.
“He’s been working pretty hard at solving some of the barriers that would have been stickers in the deal,” said Duval. “Things are moving in a positive direction, but we will want to hear from the community.”