More than 200 Area A residents packed themselves into the Arena Lounge last Tuesday, June 30, to make sure that zoning and development bylaws were not on the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s table.
A scheduled open meeting for the Area A Director, Karen Cathcart, and her advisory committee (the second such meeting to occur) was dominated by a discussion about zoning, which was sparked by rumours leading up to the meeting along with what many residents say was poor communication.
“It always feels like things are being snuck through the back door,” said one concerned resident.
The agenda for the meeting included a discussion about a Rural Development Plan, yet the vague nature of the term had some people insisting that it meant Director Cathcart was fixated on zoning.
“This plan is about how we engage the residents of Area A,” said Cathcart. “We want to hear from you, what you like in Area and don’t want to change, as well as what you don’t like.”
Intersol Group was hired on contract to develop the plan. The contract’s value is $30,000, which will be paid to the company when and if the plan is approved.
Several examples of what could be included in such a plan were brought up, including fire protection in the Blaeberry, water quality issues, and broadband services. Cathcart assured the crowd that no new service could be implemented in the area without a vote or “referendum”, with 51 per cent in favour. And on top of that, these referendums won’t take place at all if she doesn’t hear any support for the services in the area.
“You’re telling me that you don’t want zoning, and I hear you,” said Cathcart. “If you don’t want it, we won’t do it.”
Cathcart’s advisory committee, made up of representatives from the different areas of Area A, will be gathering information from residents regarding what they would like to see in their areas. However some suggested that the best way to gauge public opinion and receive feedback would be through a mail-out survey.
Cathcart seemed very receptive to the suggestion, and said she would take the idea to the CSRD board.
Tensions still remained high at the end of the meeting, with many of those in attendance fearful that this plan would only bring about more government in their lives. Many were even heard shouting out “we don’t want change,” insisting that everything in Area A is exactly the way they want it.
Cathcart however, says that she has been asked questions about certain services by residents, and it is her job to listen to everyone in Area A and seek out answers to those questions.