157 full-time residents attended the public hearing in Jaffray on Wednesday, November 22. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Jaffray and area residents oppose community plan

The majority of Jaffray residents voiced their overwhelming opposition to the newly proposed Official Community Plan presented by the Regional District of East Kootenay at a public hearing on Wednesday, November 22. They are worried this will change their lifestyle dramatically.

The new Jaffray Area Official Community Plan Bylaw No. 2810 and Bylaw No. 2811, aims to set in place a variety of regulations which will affect the areas of Jaffray, Tie Lake and Rosen Lake.

Bylaw No. 2810 is the Official Community Plan, a long-term strategic planning document that will establish policies for land use development and conservation within the plan area. Bylaw No. 2811 is the zoning bylaw which regulates development. The bylaw also establishes floodplain management regulations.

Prior to the public hearing, staff advised in a report that 56 letters were received, 24 in support and 32 opposed to the new official community plan. Additionally, 11 letters in opposition were received prior to adjournment of the public hearing.

Approximately 156 full-time residents of the community sat in front of the RDEK board members, and many got up to the microphone to voice their opinion.

Of those who spoke, 30 were opposed and three voiced their support. Four were in favour, if the OCP was modified and presented again at another time. Ten approached the microphone to either point something out, state a fact, or speak a second time.

A recurring response was that the OCP is unnecessary, and does not suit the lifestyle of the local residents. Many also said that the approach was wrong, and that the locals were not given enough consideration.

“It’s far too city-like for how we want to live,” said one resident.

“We’re country folk, we don’t need all these regulations,” said another.

Over and above believing they don’t need the regulations, some said they were unfair and uncalled for.

Many residents said they believe that the lake residents need these bylaws, but the rural area residents do not.

Some believe that rules are necessary for a functioning community, but stated they don’t believe the newly proposed OCP serves their needs. Some suggested the OCP be delayed, reassessed, and modified. Some proposed it be delayed pending further consultation with residents.

Gary Mitchell supported the bylaw. He said he was taken aback by the divisiveness seen around the community, and saddened by the negative attitudes. Mitchell, a resident since 1943, said the OCP is an opportunity to make the community better. He acknowledged that the majority of attendees at the hearing seemed to be opposed but that their reasons weren’t good reasons.

“Change is coming,” he said.

A large number of residents are concerned that they’re not being heard. In July of 2017, a petition was filled out, lobbying against the OCP.

Approximately 30 of the final 308 signatures were signed in the Jaffray Pub. According to Area B Director Stan Doehle, the RDEK accepted the petition and moved on. According to residents, the petition was dismissed because it was signed in the Jaffray Pub. Nathan Anselmo, a resident of Rosen Lake Road, held up these petitions at the public hearing, and said he would be resubmitting them again to the board of directors.

“These signatures, these people need to be recognized,” said Anselmo in a conversation after the public hearing.

Bob Prowse was another resident who spoke at the public hearing, and voiced his opposition. He believes that more enforcement is unnecessary. He also believes that the OCP fails to capture the vision of the local community. From what he has heard, 9/10 residents don’t want anything to do with this.

“You can’t write enough volumes in an OCP to dictate the perfect lifestyle we already have,” he said.

Anselmo said the planning process was a disaster and should have been stopped a long time ago. He applied, and was put on the committee to represent all agricultural land holders in the area.

He said that at the inception of this proposition, 75 per cent of the area the RDEK proposed to zone was owned by large land holders. Anselmo believes that the residents who own 75 per cent of the land proposed to be zoned, should have a say in the plan.

This OCP, if passed, will place another layer of jurisdiction on these farmers who must currently adhere to provincial governing bodies.

Currently, any large acreage owner who wants to develop his land would first have to submit an application to the Agricultural Land Commission for a non-farm use application. If the OCP is approved and the new zoning comes into play, these applications would first go to the RDEK for approval before being sent to the Agricultural Land Commission. Anselmo says this would add a huge cost for those in the agricultural business.

He believes the concerns he brought forward were not heard.

“We’re trying to make a living out here, we’re trying to put food on our tables,” said Anselmo. “You [RDEK] need to make that a number one priority.”

To review the official public hearing report, visit ftp://ftp.rdek.bc.ca/agendas/rdek/rdekagenda_dec1b.pdf and scroll to page 37.

This story is one part of a series of stories pertaining to the Jaffray and Area OCP. To be continued next week.

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