In what appeared to be a tough decision to make, council granted third reading to ICBC’s proposed truck and motorcycle test centre in Walnut Grove in a 5-3 vote on April 23.
Councillors Petrina Arnason, Kim Richter and Michelle Sparrow were opposed. Charlie Fox was absent.
The centralized test centre, located at 20219 96 Ave., will be the first of its kind, focusing on new drivers wishing to operate commercial trucks and motorcycles.
At a public hearing in April, residents who live across the street from the proposal expressed concerns with increased noise and traffic from the test centre — two items that some members of council took issue with as well.
“Based on the density of the housing right across the street, and the noise that is going to be generated, as well as the increased truck traffic, I don’t believe this is a suitable location for that kind of a testing facility,” said Richter.
“I believe that the location should be further to the west, preferably in the industrial park, and not right across from high density residential. That’s just not fair to those people, so I’m not supporting this.”
Coun. Angie Quaale asked for clarification on whether back-up beepers will be used on the vehicles. Ramin Seifi, Township manager of engineering and community development, said that despite the proponent suggesting that beepers could be restricted, enforcing that would be impossible.
Coun. Michelle Sparrow said she used to live in this area, and is also concerned with traffic.
“I can’t actually imagine having even more vehicles, and having the traffic … coming and going and encouraging that extra amount of truck traffic in that area,” she said.
“As it is, it is already very difficult to maneuver, especially at certain times of the day.”
Coun. Petrina Arnason said she “really struggled” with the decision, as the proponent said ICBC has been looking for three years for a suitable location for the test centre.
“If there was enough sound mitigation then it wouldn’t be a problem, but overall I think as we grow, we have to make sure that we’re having really good and sound planning principles for potentially incompatible uses,” Arnason said.
“And so I think all things considered, I wouldn’t be supporting this, just because of those incompatibility issues.”
Coun. Bob Long, however, thinks the facility will not be as disruptive as some people fear.
“Considering some other uses that could be proposed on the property, I think this may not be all that bad,” he said.
“Especially with the buffering of the building, and the landscaping and so forth, on the south section. So I’m fine with it.”
Mayor Jack Froese agreed, adding that the ICBC test centre is very passive compared to what could move in under the current zoning.
“I think it’s a good use. I think that if it doesn’t go in, something will come in there that’s going to be a lot more detrimental to the residents,” he said.
“This is probably the best use we could get for it.”
At council’s following meeting on May 7, Richter put forward a motion to reconsider third reading, however that motion failed.