In answer to Mr. Zeeman’s letter to the editor “No clear OCP mandate” and the Hugs & Slugs comment on May 11 in the Nelson Star.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) has some services that are mandated by the provincial government and all electoral areas and municipalities must contribute through taxation. At the RDCK, land use planners work in the Development Services Department which is a mandated service. Area E has contributed to the service for many years and while all other rural areas of the RDCK have received planning services, Area E has not despite its healthy contribution to the service. The development services department has other functions such as building permits, customer service, etc. Area E will not pay any more in taxation due to having a community plan. The department exists whether we have a plan or not. The money used to prepare the plan thus far would simply have stayed in the department and been used on other areas.
Support for the Community Plan
In 2010 a survey was sent by address mail to 2,100 addresses in Area E and absentee owners. A 40 per cent return received on the survey is a very good response rate and exceeds the number of people that come out to vote at elections. The survey contained 63 questions focused on land use and people’s values about the land. For example 93 per cent of the respondents believed lakeshore development should be conducted in an environmentally sensitive fashion. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents thought the RDCK should manage the location of commercial and industrial growth.
In Balfour, where Mr. Zeeman lives, the response to the survey was vigorous with 180 households answering the survey and the response was decisive with there being more surveys favouring a community plan than the combination of undecided and negative responses.
The request for community planning was brought forth by the former director for the area at the request of Harrop-Procter residents. It was on the RDCK list of priorities when I became a director specific to Harrop-Procter. The leadership of the Balfour Chamber of Commerce, at the time, expressed interest in the concept at my initial meeting with them. On this basis the development services department and I decided to test the idea of planning in all of Area E in 2009. Since that time we have sent out two newsletters, a survey, held three public meetings at different times in all four communities of Area E, taken out a full page newspaper ad, sent unaddressed mail notices of meetings, placed notices in the Nelson Star and Pennywise, posted the survey and meeting notices on my blog and sent our community emails where we have email addresses.
This is a community process meant to plan for amenities the community wants, define Area E to government ministries, new residents, commercial ventures and land developers so that the community retains its rural nature. Most of the draft community plan is not regulatory and does not impose restrictions on landowners. It is not zoning. Zoning would require a separate process at the request of a community. Some areas wish they had zoning now given the invasive and undesirable land uses that are taking place in their neighbourhoods but such requests are community driven: not imposed randomly by the RDCK.
Area E Director
Regional District of