It was a full house for the Local Advisory Meeting that was held on July 18th at the Golden Civic Centre for Area A residents. (Claire Palmer photo)

It was a full house for the Local Advisory Meeting that was held on July 18th at the Golden Civic Centre for Area A residents. (Claire Palmer photo)

CSRD holds information session for Area A residents

The mood was tense as discussion turned to Official Community Plans

A Local Advisory Meeting held by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) to explain land use planning was well attended with over 100 people turning out, with senior officials from the district explaining the different processes.

At its core, the meeting was an information session, with Area A Director Karen Cathcart emphasizing that the night was not about making changes to zoning bylaws or implementing policy, but about providing good information to the constituents of Area A, amid combative comments from some residents.

“My job as director is to bring you information from the experts, I’ve had a number of questions directed at me and so we are here to explaining what happens with Official Community Plans, with subdivision process and these things,” said Cathcart.

Presenters were Corey Palement, Team Leader Planning Services, Christine LeFloch, Senior Planner and Ken Gobeil, Senior Planner.

The meeting was prompted after Cathcart said she had heard from approximately 50-60 Area A residents over the last year who were seeking for more information on what an Official Community Plan (OCP) is.

An OCP is outlined by the Local Government Act section 875 from the Province, and describes the long-term vision of communities. They are a statement of objectives that guide bylaws that are enacted.

Local government do not have to adopt an OCP.

The presentation also outlined the two bylaws that are enacted in Area A, which the Subdivision Servicing Bylaw, which was recently revised as of March 1, 2022, and the Highway Planning Area 168 bylaw, which has been in effect since 1966.

The Subdivision Servicing Bylaw mainly deals with ensuring that subdivision are built sustainably and safely, with access to septic services and water. The 2022 updates were mainly to remove bureaucracy and focused on more important priorities, said Palement, such as access to water.

The Highway Planning Area bylaw applies to developing within 300 m of the Trans-Canada Highway.

A group of residents who live on Kettleston Road were seeking the information, as concern over a development of 53 lots at the end of the road prompted them to reach out to Cathcart eight months ago.

Several residents voiced their opinion that they do not wish to see an OCP put in place and that a lack of bylaws is what they appreciate about living in Area A, with tension evident between residents and CSRD officials.

Many residents spoke on the individual liberties that are afforded to them living in Area A and their concern that increasing bylaws and regulations that may would infringe on their ability to do what they want with their property.

Several were also concerned that the meeting was predicating a push from the CSRD to ‘force’ an OCP on residents without consultation, which Cathcart pushed back against.

“You know me, you know how I work, everything I’ve done in the past eight years I’ve followed up with surveying and sitting down with people, I would need to see a majority across the board before I take anything to the next level, which I clearly do not see today,” said Cathcart.

“This is purely an informational meeting, nothing more.”

The presentation also outlined some of the primary concerns of CSRD residents as affordable housing, vacation rentals, Riparian areas protection regulation and new geohazard mapping from 2020.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District