DOI slams door on Grizzly Ridge division request

District of Invermere council isn't throwing its support behind a subdivision request from Grizzly Ridge Properties.

District of Invermere council isn’t throwing its support behind a subdivision request from Grizzly Ridge Properties.

The company, which owns more than 2,000 acres of land on the district’s southern and western borders, is asking the Regional District of East Kootenay to let it subdivide one of its 12 lots into two smaller parcels.

The lot, which is bisected by Highway 93/95, would be split into an approximately five-acre parcel, which would be used as a sand and gravel pit. The other portion would be advertised for sale.

Due to a restrictive covenant placed on the property when it was first subdivided, none of Grizzly Ridge’s lots can be divided until 2014 without special permission. Though the final decision will be made by the regional district, Invermere council was asked to give its thoughts on the subdivision at its September 12 meeting — and few, if any, were positive.

A staff report for council called the division “inconsistent with the desire to maintain larger parcels” in the area, and pointed out the request doesn’t provide public access to recreational lands behind Grizzly Ridge.

“I speak against the covenant in the strongest terms possible,” added councillor Bob Campsall, who called the current subdivision of Grizzly Ridge “ridiculous.”

“To have this five acre piece across the road all on its own for the silly excuses they’re giving is just ridiculous,” he added. “I think it’s an abuse of the public trust if we let this go ahead.”

Though the district will ask the regional district to turn down the application, councillors expressed worry that further divisions are inevitable, whether they approve or not.

Because many of Grizzly Ridge’s lots are bisected by the highway they are eligible for subdivision as soon as the covenant expires and, at present, wouldn’t come before the regional district board.

Mayor Gerry Taft said he hopes to introduce amendments to the district that would give officials more control over future subdivision, but councillor Spring Hawes said pressuring the district to develop a land use plan for the area before 2014 is also key.

However, whether such a plan could come together is debatable, as the regional district has in past suggested the area isn’t “high priority” at the moment.