The process and the plan for Area E

I must admit I was somewhat surprised at Jim Demers’ letter.

Re: “Planning in Area E a bad idea,” Letters, November 9

I must admit I was somewhat surprised at Jim Demers’ letter. As a builder he must know that there are many provincial building code regulations required to build a home or barn, such as setbacks from highways septic tanks, water courses, etc. To infer a community plan will regulate these things doesn’t make sense. Area E is not “free” of these requirements.

The Official Community Plan for Area E does not specify the placement or colour of buildings nor in any way interfere with the current legal use of people’s property. There is little in the way of regulations in the document. There is a requirement for new larger housing developments of five or more small subdivided lots to develop in a way that considers the surrounding neighbourhood as well as a requirement that new industrial buildings do the same. As well there is a requirement that development by water sources are certified by an environmental professional to protect the waterside habitat for fish and other species because the habitat on the West Arm has been rapidly decreasing. Basically the plan’s strength is that local residents get to comment on large changes to their community.

The community plan is a statement of what the community looks like at this time and how it wants to grow into the future. Just as people plan their finances or monthly budget, an Official Community Plan looks at the present as to the strengths and challenges in our community with an eye to the future. It is not zoning and there are no plans to implement zoning. The Regional District of Central Kootenay has no vested interest in whether Area E has a plan or not.

Initiated in September 2008 by the community of Harrop-Procter in response to several large land use changes, a community plan for Harrop-Procter was on the RDCK priority list when I took office in December that same year. It was decided to see if all of Area E might be interested in planning because creating a community plan is a time consuming process and it was not likely other parts of Area E could be added within a reasonable timeframe if they wanted to be involved after the fact. The draft Official Community Plan for Area E is the culmination of three years of community outreach through meetings and the results of a survey that was sent addressed to each property owner.

To our surprise almost all communities in Area E showed a lot of interest in managing growth and development and there was also interest in a community plan. Work carried forward to integrate the values expressed in the community survey and at meetings into the draft community plan.

At every meeting in Blewett there have been some individuals who have said “no plan.” However survey results from the area showed their views do not reflect the majority. Some people in Blewett organized to come to the public hearing October 24 to say “stop the plan.” Many had good questions. People from other areas also made good points that can be included in the plan.

All of the other rural electoral areas in the RDCK have an Official Community Plan in all or part of their area. It is impossible to address land use disputes or unwanted effects of development in a community on an ad-hoc basis and therefore the choices made today about planning will determine the future.

A recommendation to postpone adoption of the community plan until requested changes can be made and a definitive answer found on Blewett’s participation will be on the November 16 RDCK Agenda. For more information: rdck.bc.ca/development/planning/projects/area_e_land_use_planning.html.

Ramona Faust

RDCK Area E Director

 

 

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