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LETTERS: Galloway lands

Why are we in such a rush to approve development of the Galloway lands along the Lizard Creek drainage when it appears there is available stock for estate homes in Timber Landing at RCR, the Cedars, Montane and Alpine Trails.

Why are we in such a rush to approve development of the Galloway lands along the Lizard Creek drainage when it appears there is available stock for estate homes in Timber Landing at RCR, the Cedars, Montane and Alpine Trails.

The Galloway lands are located between the Cedars and FAR, Mount Fernie Park and Highway 3. Reto Barrington (developer) and Bud Nelson (land owner) are petitioning the RDEK for a land use amendment to change the current zoning, thus developing 90 home sites, circled by a stand alone parcel of open space for recreation and trails, masked as ‘conservation lands’.

Galloway’s reworked application for zoning amendment was presented to the RDEK Area A - Area Planning Commission (APC), February 21, 2023. It was attended by 43 people on zoom (which the Chair stated was the most ever!) and 10 in-person, illustrating great public interest. Public attending could not ask questions or make comment. The APC members attending, only 3 out of 9, voted unanimously to move the proposal, in its second iteration, forward to the RDEK.

To fully assess this critical decision, an updated Elk Valley Official Community Plan written in 2014, needs updating to clarify its regional, Valley-wide vision. So much has changed in the Elk Valley over the past decade: excessive forest removal of the Valley’s east side, expansion of Teck mines impacting water quality as well as their divestment of carbon, population growth, demand for housing making it unaffordable for most current residents, pressure on agricultural land for subdivision, traffic increase on Highway 3, cumulative impacts on wildlife and extensive tourism pressure, to name a few.

Changing the zoning of the Galloway land has generational implications for Fernie and the Elk Valley. Impacts to our valuable natural assets need full cost accounting, like risks to: Westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout spawning habitat; wildlife corridors for large ranging carnivores; critical habitat for ungulates like moose and elk, long-toed salamanders, and olive-sided flycatchers; and opportunities for alternative economic development. Intact forest ecosystems instead of hardened, developed surfaces are required for climate change resilience, given our recent experiences with floods and rising temperatures.

It feels like we are on a knife-edge of decision-making that will take our Valley one of two ways. Elected representatives please have the courage to say no to Galloway’s zoning amendment. Instead, say yes to an updated OCP that prioritizes the values we hold dear: wildlife, water quality and aquatic health, recreation opportunities, and responsible development - today and tomorrow.

Lee-Anne Walker, RDEK Area A & Resident for 40 years

For the past year, as residents of the RDEK Area A, we have taken an active interest in the proposed development of the Galloway Lands and the exponential development of RCR’s Fernie Alpine Resort lands. The development of both properties (Galloway and FAR) has caused alarm among many of the citizens of the Elk Vally and has exposed just how unprepared the Regional Government has been in dealing with this unexpected growth. The City of Fernie has identified many of the needs in their community ie. sustainable and affordable housing, municipal sewer and water services, fire protection services, safety and recreational needs, mental health needs etc. However, the RDEK OCP’s (Official Community Plans) for the Area A lands that surround Fernie and the Fernie Alpine Resort lands are significantly out of date given the developments now being proposed. They lack vision for a sustainable community and are largely ignored by the two major developers whose proposals for land development will be significantly profitable for them but will put an unhealthy strain on the community. As well, with the clear cutting of the Private Managed Forest lands to the south of Fernie, it is probable that large tracks of this land will be flipped to developers in the future. This destruction of our forests is certainly not consistent with world views for forest protection and global CO2 reduction initiatives.

Like many in this community we would like to encourage our new Fernie mayor, Nic Milligan and the new RDEK Area A representative, Thomas McDonald to lobby the RDEK Board to place an immediate moratorium on future developments for a defined period of time so that a vision and strategic plan in the form of new OCP’s can be formulated for the lands surrounding Fernie and for Fernie Alpine Resort. There is a need to communicate to present and potential residents who we are as a community and what we envision for our future. There has already been significant and valuable input put forward by respected, knowledgeable community members with regard to future development. Let’s be proactive and drive our own vision of community rather than having it forced upon us by developers.

Janice and Helmut Kron

Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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