Keep our rural land rural

When I read the article in the January 24 Free Press, entitled, "New development could be coming to Fernie” it shocked me.

When I read the article in the January 24 Free Press, entitled, “New development could be coming to Fernie” it shocked me because, while the site is about three kilometres north of the city boundary and it is to be an urban residential zone, council voted to advise the RDEK that Fernie council favours this project.

This despite the fact the city planning staff were opposed and also one councillor.

Being well informed of the relevant policies in place, I thought, of course, they were. How could the rest not also be? First, there is the RDEK Regional Growth Strategy that dictates the containment of residential development towards municipalities and encourages rural areas to remain rural and urban areas to develop in a compact and efficient manner. The Elk Valley’s subsection goes on to direct second home development towards municipalities.

Second, our OCP and CDP recommends strategies based on an intensification approach to growth within the city boundary.

Next, the Fernie Area Land Use Strategy. The site is outside even its plan area and thus beyond the range for any urban residential development, let alone meeting the objective of rural area development within it. That is, “the preservation and enhancement of rural lifestyle and character outside of the City of Fernie and resort development areas”.

The RDEK staff recommendation states, in part, ‘the location of the proposed development is not an area identified for further residential development at the proposed density and the proposal may be viewed as inconsistent with the human settlement policies of the Regional Growth Strategy.’

Sparwood was also canvassed and recommended that approval NOT be granted.

To sum up: in supporting this rezoning the City of Fernie council had to disregard: RDEK Regional Growth Strategy, (Region Wide Interests), and, Elk Valley Subregion directive; Fernie Area Land Use Strategy; Draft Comprehensive Development Plan Update/OCP; Smart Growth strategies; RDEK staff; Sparwood council; and, the recommendations of its own staff.

To ignore all the above, is just plain bad planning. We must not let that happen.


Ted Ralfe