Letters to the Editor – June 22

The OCP and us

The OCP and us

An impromptu meeting was called for Thursday June 8, by the South Country Back Country Users Association (SCBCUA). Around a hundred people from the South Country showed up – an unusually good turnout. The reason for this emergency was a petition circulated by kindly and gregarious Rex Holley of Elko. The petition was in two parts. One was for Elko; the other was for Jaffray, due to the interest in the one for Elko. So the petition for Jaffray was drawn up at a slightly later date. Elko’s petition stated that the citizens of Elko do not support the Jaffray & Elko Area Official Community Plan and The South Country Zoning & Floodplain Management Bylaw as presented in the “Draft for Public Presentation and Comment” document dated April 2017, and all proposed zonings as referenced in maps #D5 and A5. Further, they requested consultation prior to any enactments. Jaffray’s petition stated that the undersigned find the Jaffray & Elko OCP & Zoning Bylaw unwarranted, overbearing and uncalled for at this time, and do not support it. Approximately 100 people from Elko and 300 from Jaffray and surrounding areas signed the petitions.

The Grandfather Clause in the OCP was a particular irritant. It allows contravening buildings, fences, vehicles, animals etc. six months to comply with the rules once the bylaw is passed. Another grievance was the unequal representation at the OCP table ie. Caithness trailer court was unrepresented and buildings that need repairs amounting to 75 per cent of their value will be torn down. Others simply stated that they were happy with the way things were and wanted to be left alone. I wanted to know how Elko got dragged into this process anyway. It seems that someone in Elko was opposed to the construction of campsites on property on the north end of Burton Lake. Ranchers and farmers were also unhappy with clauses in the OCP that placed unreasonable restrictions on the owners’ abilities to make a living off their land. A former Area elected representative indicated that it was his belief that the incumbent Area B representative had an agenda to implement the OCP in the South Country and would push it relentlessly. For at least one panel member the implementation of the OCP in Area B was inevitable, and opposition was futile. At that point opposition became vociferous. Eventually the will of the people was acknowledged and a vote by show of hands was held. The vote was unanimous except for one dissenting vote that the OCP process should be abandoned for the Jaffray, Elko and South Country area. It was understood that the Back Country Users Association and Nathan Anselmo would convey the peoples wishes to the Regional District. The meeting was adjourned. The crowd seemed relieved and they immediately mixed and chattered amiably.

Next, I attended the Table for Jaffray & Elko OCP at the Jaffray Hall, on Monday June 12, as a spectator. Rex had officially submitted the petitions to the RDEK, earlier. Ostensibly, the meeting was about surface water zoning as it pertained to the OCP. But it was soon apparent that the major issue being discussed, in view of the recently submitted petitions, was whether or not it was legitimate to proceed with the OCP. Nathan doggedly reiterated his doubts, and Karen, the chair for this committee, maintained her commitment to the process. Eventually, at Nathan’s prodding, Karen admitted that she would continue to advance the process until she was instructed not to. She maintained that it was possible that there were people in the community that had not been heard from and that these people were for the process and might actually outnumber the people against it. It was a valid point, although I thought it was unlikely. Nathan raised the unequal representation issue. Karen countered with the argument that people had been given the opportunity to sit at the table, but that no-one from Elko applied. So Shane Webster had been asked to handle the task. Apparently the process for the OCP had been in play for the last two years in Elko. I remember the OCP issue being raised at an Elko meeting concerning the building of a fire hall. I voiced my opposition. I raised the concern that people lived in Elko to avoid unnecessary rules and regulations. This sentiment was seconded by others in attendance and the issue was quickly dropped. It seems strange now that people in Elko heard nothing more about it. It also seems strange that a vote was held in Elko to gauge public support for a fire hall, but there is nothing planned for the OCP. In fact, the Local government department under the Ministry of Community, Sport & Cultural Development in its Stakeholder Info circular of May 29, 2017, stipulates that for council or regional board members “There is no requirement that they must vote in accordance with the majority of opinions expressed at the public hearing.” Interesting isn’t it?

There were other things going on at these meetings of course. I can only report what I can remember about what I saw and heard, and how it pertains to me.

Dan Meister

Elko, B.C.