© Guardian photo
BioVectra plant in the West Royalty Industrial Park.
Once again the City of Charlottetown has been successful in deflecting warnings from a chemical company to keep apartment development away from danger.
The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission today issued its decision in the matter of BioVectra versus the City of Charlottetown. The battle relates to building and other permits given by the city to allow apartment buildings to be constructed beside the BioVectra plant in the West Royalty Industrial Park.
Testimony in this round of hearings was held in June, then July of this year. Part of the testimony looked at a report from an earlier IRAC case on the same sort of issues back in 2010.
The report, written by Rem Gaade, looked at the risk of the development both built and proposed around BioVectra. Gaade is a former chief of hazardous materials or HazMat, and special operations for the Toronto Fire Department.
That apartment development proposed in 2010 had an "unreasonable level of risk," said Gaade, and was "not sensible."
He made recommendations and the new 2012 development meets those safety recommendations, the commission was told.
"While the location of the apartment buildings in relation to BioVectra's Hillstrom facility is not an ideal situation, the fact that the apartment buildings meet or exceed code requirements and follow the applicable safety recommendations set out in the Gaade report satisfy the Commission that the proposed development is acceptable in principle," said Wednesday's decision.
Gaade also recommended the development include restrictive covenants so that tenants know they are beside an industrial complex that runs 24 hours per day and can't file nuisance complaints. No such requirement is part of this new development and the commission won't go there. It's not a matter affecting the convenience, health or safety of residents, said the commission.
That dependence on the 2010 Gaade report was an issue during the hearings for BioVectra, which wanted a new risk assessment report.
"At the hearing, Counsel for BioVectra emphasized most strongly that the City initially took a very firm approach of requiring an independent risk assessment and then retreated from that approach," said Wednesday's ruling. " The Commission commends the City for taking up the clarion call for a firm approach to risk assessment and the importance of public safety within land use planning. While to some it might seem that the City did retreat from its initial firm position, the Commission is of the view that the City utilized a pragmatic approach in this particular case by making good use of existing reports filed at the previous appeal."
BioVectra also objected to the city allowing a road into the apartment development.
The city paved about 200 feet connecting Upton Road to the private road of the developers without permission from the province. It was a windfall for the developers, said BioVectra.
Just good planning, said the commission in its decision. The stub road of the city allows better flow of nearby industrial vehicles and light apartment traffic entering Upton Road, said the commission.