In a dramatic turnaround, the Galloway Lands development proposal will go to public hearing after a change of heart from the RDEK board of directors from the previous day’s recommendation.
The meeting on May 13 saw a vote of 9-6 in opposition to the previous day’s planning committee recommendation to not allow the bylaw amendments to proceed.
The three directors who changed the direction of their votes were Susan Clovechok (Area F), Dean McKerracher (mayor of Elkford), and Al Miller (mayor of Invermere), who all supported the motion not to proceed on Thursday but changed their minds the next morning. And, as with the Thursday meeting, Area A director Mike Sosnowski recused himself over a perceived conflict of interest, which he denied on Friday.
Directors Clovechok, Don McCormick of the City of Kimberley, and David Wilks of the District of Sparwood all spoke in favour of allowing the bylaws to proceed, citing, among other things, the importance of following the formal process and allowing all possible voices and information to be heard before a final decision is made.
McCormick said: “The fact is, we have not had a formal public hearing. What amounted to a public hearing from one side of the equation has been taking place now for quite some time. There are many parties to this whole process.”
“In summary I just want to say that I think our governance process is broken on this thing. We need to get it back in place, and we do that by moving first reading and going to a public hearing.”
Directors Ange Qualizza of the City of Fernie, Stan Doehle of Area B, and Lee Pratt of the City of Cranbrook defended the motion to not proceed, citing the significant oppositional voices that had already been heard to the proposal and questioning whether anything would change at the public hearing stage.
Qualizza pointed to referral agencies that were critical of the proposal, and said that applications are ‘not entitled’ to move through the process.
“The City of Fernie is going to be the most impacted party to this development. We are not in support. It is not a foregone conclusion that just because you’ve put together an application it moves through.”
Once the motion not to proceed was defeated, Radium Hot Springs mayor Clara Reinhardt moved to introduce the first bylaw amendment of the Official Community Plan.
The motion passed with 9 in favour and 6 opposed.
Reinhardt then moved that the second zoning amendment bylaw be introduced, also with 9 in favour and 6 opposed.
Not long after, the amendments were given first and second readings, with the same voting pattern carrying both readings forward.
Directors then voted for the proposal to go to public hearing, which was opposed by Qualizza.
Proponent Reto Barrington of Handshake Holdings said they were pleased with the outcome and looking forward to the public hearing.
“We will continue to refine and improve the Galloway Lands conservation design proposal. We listened to the issues and will address them to ensure all stakeholders concerns are addressed. We are working hard to ensure this conservation development creates a legacy for the community.”