UPDATED: Blewett residents say no to community plan
Blewett residents have rejected taking part in an official community plan being developed for Area E of the Regional District of Central Kootenay by a two-to-one margin.
Results of a mail-in plebiscite released today showed 76 in favour of the plan and 157 against. The 233 responses represented a 34 per cent return rate.
"The people of Blewett have spoken and Blewett and Highway 6 will be excluded from the plan area," Area E director Ramona Faust said in a news release.
"Those people that went door-to-door and canvassed the phones although perhaps with imperfect information have succeeded in bringing forward a community position and I will respect that. That's grass-roots."
She added that the result means Blewett residents will not be consulted when major changes to land use take place in the community, and subdivision and commercial and industrial development will go ahead without their formal input, "much as it has been in the past."
The plebiscite was conducted over about six weeks in December and January after it became clear it was least popular in Blewett.
"This is not a victory for anyone," said Sam Relkoff, an outspoken critic of both the plan and the plebiscite, who felt the process should have been abandoned following a survey in 2010.
"Ramona's approach is just dividing Area E into zones ... As far as I am concerned this plebiscite is illegal, as ballots should have been sent to every eligible resident in Area E."
"I have never been so disappointed with my community," Lisa Cannady said on a Blewett Facebook forum. "I wish people would have been properly informed."
"There is a powerful opposition to change in some Blewett residents," said Kathy McKelvey Harris. "This is why we don't have free library access like the rest of the area." (Area E voted against paying increased taxation to access the Nelson library in 2010.)
Staff are revising the official community plan map to take to the regional district board this month.
The plan, minus Blewett, will head to a public hearing this spring to ensure all requested changes in land use and language have been adopted. The revised document is available on the regional district's website.