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Regional districts, unlike municipalities, generally do not own land.  The exceptions are park land and land for other public amenities such as pools, fire halls, and so on.  As such, the RDOS has no land to offer.

A swap with the Province of BC may be feasible in principle but it is hard to see what is in it for Peter Bros. I assume that if a swap or other market transaction was in their favor they would have made it long ago. Like any company, Peter Bros. can seek to lease or purchase Crown Land anywhere in the province at any time for aggregate extraction, processing, and other industrial uses. For whatever business reason, the company chooses to continue to operate on the land it owns on the West Bench adjacent to its established gravel resources.  My guess is that Peter Bros. can find no better spot given the economic structure of the situation.

The only real recourse I can see in this case is to change the economic structure of the situation.  A local government might do this in different ways:

  1. Establish zoning that leads to a higher and better use of the land.  In this case, it might mean re-establishing the viability of residential development on the Peter Bros. site.  If the economic benefits of residential development outweighed the economic benefits of an asphalt operation then I expect Peter Bros. would relocate at their own expense in the blink of an eye.  As noted previously however, zoning is not the problem here; infrastructure is.  "Establishing the viability of residential development" on that site boils down to (a) water and (b) sewer.  My guess is that this is a ~$25M undertaking.
  2. Purchase the land. The RDOS could purchase the land outright from Peter Bros.  More precisely, the taxpayers of the benefiting area (the greater West Bench) could purchase the property.  The asphalt plant would cease to be grandfathered.  The land could then be converted to a park (ha!) or resold as residential development.  I have not looked into the economics of this but I suspect they are extremely unfavorable.  And since a referendum would be required to borrow the necessary money, unfavorable economics matter.  Outright purchase might make more sense if water and sewer were in place since the potential density for residential or mixed-use development would increase.
  3. Side payments? A third approach, which may or may not be feasible, is to offer Peter Bros. a financial or in-kind incentive to move.  This is sort of what you are getting at when you suggest a Crown Land swap.  Since they would lose the West Bench site and incur significant relocation costs, the company may require a "kicker" to even consider it.  Can a local government tax residents in order to provide a subsidy to a for-profit firm?  Probably not without significant legal gymnastics.  But I think the generic principle is sound: both residents and the company would be better off if an appropriate sidepayment could be negotiated.


These are my thoughts.  I see (1) as being the most likely/promising.

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