Disagreement over OCP effects on Canal Flats

Fairmont Hot Springs and Columbia Lake draft OCP feedback offered by Canal Flats Council

At the last Canal Flats council meeting, council was asked to advise the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) that its interests are unaffected by Proposed Bylaw 2779- Fairmont Hot Springs and Columbia Lake Area Official Community Plan. Interim CAO Dawn Attorp said the referral is a courtesy to the village only.

Council disagreed strongly with that proposal, with several members expressing concerns with how Fairmont’s OCP may affect Canal Flats.

“If we support the OCP and it goes forward and then something happens, how much voice do we really have, how much weight does that carry,” questioned Councillor Karl Sterzer at the meeting, held Monday, May 23.

He said his fear is showing support for the OCP now, and then later not having a lot of say if an issue comes up.

Councillor Marie Delorme said when Kris Belanger, planner for RDEK, came to a Council meeting April 24 to present possible effects of the Fairmont OCP to Canal Flats, she saw some concerns on how it could affect the local economy.

Ms. Delorme raised concerns with the Fairmont OCP’s desire to see little to no rezoning of land for residential development, and that the OCP affects a large parcel of industrial land in Area F just east of Canal Flats.

“All of these areas, if developed, have the potential to support the economy in Canal Flats,” elaborated Ms. Delorme to The Echo in a follow-up email. “To limit residential development in Area F, South of Columbia Ridge, limits Canal Flat’s capacity for economic growth.”

Another concern raised was around development around Columbia Lake. Ms. Delorme questions what they mean by not seeing Columbia Lake overcrowded.

“Do they mean to limit the number of people using he lake? Or do they mean to limit residential development around the lake? The OCP limits residential development, not users. Creating very few public access points to Columbia Lake limits the number of users.”

After further discussion, Mayor Ute Juras said Council could amend the motion.

Council’s revised resolution, to be ratified at the next Council meeting, states that Council supports, in principle, the OCP, “ but would note concerns regarding the expansion of the OCP boundary surrounding Canal Flats, as well as to advise of the Village’s continuing interest in having a strong voice regarding any future amendments to the Bylaw which may have potential to affect the economy of Canal Flats.”

Council also received a report on arena upgrade plans, outlining improvement timelines and cost estimates.

Councillor Paul Marcil questioned if the architect would be able to incorporate timber frame elements into the arena upgrade, as timber frame style is found in the Canal Flats design guidelines.

Arena manager Mathieu Fournier said due to budget restraints for the centre, the architect was asked that the entrance timber frame be removed.

Interim CAO Dawn Attorp confirmed, saying, “I believe he’s aware our desire was timber frame, but (he) had to scale back.”

Mr. Fournier assured council the architect, Chris Fairbanks of Fairbanks Architects, would be made aware that, if possible, some timber frame elements be incorporated even if the elements are superficial, not structural. Mr. Fournier also reported that architect drawings are “in the works,” now.

Council agreed to strike an arena building committee, and to invite other participants to join in. From the village, Mr. Marcil will represent Council and Mr. Fournier for staff.

According to the report, the first phase of the Canal Flats arena project will be preliminary design alternatives. Mr. Fairbanks will develop up to two conceptual designs with scaled building plans. Major decisions and cost projections will be presented to Council. According to the staff report, preliminary design alternatives should be completed within about four weeks.

Fairbank Architects Ltd. sent cost estimates to Canal Flats, with dressing room construction estimated to cost $391,200 plus GST; attic insulation will be $159,000; exterior wall insulation and paneling will be $172,800 and the vestibule entrance will be $69,600. Estimates do not include GST. Their projected timeline shows construction should be finished by December 2017.

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