Invermere council gave initial readings to bylaws for zoning changes in the CastleRock subdivision at its most recent council meeting.
CastleRock Estates Development Corp. submitted an application to council, received at the Tuesday, December6th meeting, seeking rezoning in phases three and four of the subdivision, making the lots in phase four larger,which the developers feel is more in line with market demand.
Haworth Developing Consulting Ltd. owner Richard Haworth had presented to council almost two months ago on the topic at the September 13th meeting on behalf of Grizzly Ridge Properties Ltd. (which is the major partner in the group that owns the subdivision), updating council on new developments in the CastleRock.
Original plans for CasteRock’s phase four envisioned 125 single family lots and almost 200 total lots, but Haworth had told council “we don’t believe that this is the way to proceed, given the changes in the market,”adding “we’re seeing a strong desire for acre to half-acre lots with sewer and water. Lots that are rural in nature,but with the convenience of being in Invermere.”
He had said the new plan has 36 lots in the same space and that “most would be one acre in size, although the range is generally from half an acre to two acres. A few (lots) are two-and-a-half acres,”
“We gave the bylaw amendments three readings (during the December 6th council meeting) and will have a public hearing on them,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, speaking after the meeting. “These are relatively minor amendments and probably won’t be contentious, but we still will hold a public hearing.”
Taft said the public hearing will likely come some time in January.
Animated sign request
During the December 6th committee of the whole meeting that preceded the council meeting, council members heard from A&W co-owner and operator Eric Vanderkruk, who asked council about the possibility of amending the district’s sign bylaw to allow the restaurant to operate its new remotely controlled digital LED reader board.
Vanderkruk was not submitting a formal application on the matter, and ws merely assessing council’s mood,which was generally supportive.
The new LED reader board at A&W is already in place, as part of A&W’s recent exterior renovations, but the owners have not been operating it since it does not comply with district’s sign bylaw. The upgrades, including the sign, were made as part of the local owners’ franchise agreement with A&W Food Services of Canada Inc.
Taft told The Echo after the meeting that Invermere’s current sign bylaw was put in place about 15 years ago.
“It prohibits any back-lit, flashing or neon signs and is similar to bylaws in Radium Hot Springs, Banff and Canmore,” said Taft. “The theory is to create more of a small mountain town feel and less of a highway-strip type atmosphere.”
The sign bylaw provoked some opposition at the time it was introduced, particularly from the Toby Theatreowners, who felt not having their neon sign would be detrimental to business.
“It’s a sensitive topic,” said Taft, adding most of the controversy was avoided by having existing neon andflashing signs grandfathered in at the time.
“So the bylaw is usually more relevant for new business, and in fact most of the A&W sign is already grandfathered in,” said Taft, adding that the reader board, however, is not.
“If it had been an old school, letter-by-letter message board where you put up a message and it stays forseveral days, then that would be allowed under the bylaw. But since the new reader board has flashing andchanging copy, it is considered a new use. It’s something that they didn’t have before,” said Taft.
He added the A&W owners understand the reason for the bylaw, but are also bound by their franchise agreement.
“The national franchise has mandated that they want things a certain way. But some local governments havedifferent regulations that don’t allow for that certain way. That’s where you can sometimes have issues,” saidTaft. “The general feeling is that council would be comfortable with a variance in this situation.”
Taft added that part of the reason council members would be alright with making a exception in this case is thatthe business is located down in Athalmer, rather than on Invermere’s main street, and that the prohibitive costof such signs means not many other businesses are likely to make similar requests.
Vanderkruk will probably make a formal request to have the bylaw amended sometime in near future.
Trick or Treat curfew request
During the December 6th council meeting, council members put aside a request from a local resident asking tolimit trick or treat hours.
Carolyn Kurtz send a letter to council, received during the meeting, suggesting that trick or treating be fromonly from 6 to 8 p.m.
“In some high traffic areas, kids were out knocking on doors as early as 5 p.m. and as late as 9 p.m. It wouldalso decrease the possibility of incidence with kids and vehicles. We can encourage drivers to stay off the streetsbetween those hours to reduce traffic,” wrote Kurtz.
“There was no real appetite among council to do anything about it,” Taft told The Echo after meeting, addingthat several council members are parents of young kids and consequently recognize that a trick or treat starttime of 6 p.m. may be too late for some families.
Greening Lake Windermere’s shores
Lake Windermere Ambassadors program co-ordinator Megan Pelso attended the December 6th meeting, giving apresentation on the Ambassadors’ new Green Shores for Home program, asking if council is interested inInvermere joining the program.
“Council was generally in favour of joining the program, and opted to follow up with the Lake WindermereAmbassadors, after the opportunity is presented to Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) in January 2017,”said Peloso, speaking after the meeting.
Peloso described Green Shores for Homes as a voluntary awards and certification program that works withwaterfront homeowners to help restore natural shorelines and, by so doing, enhance recreational, scenic,environmental, and shoreline-protection benefits. She added that the program applies to new development,renovations or modifications of existing structures.
“Green Shores projects have made shorelines more accessible by eliminating drop-offs and walls, beautifiedshorelines by adding native vegetation, enhanced wildlife habitat, facilitated access to waterfront activities, andsecured properties against erosion and flooding, using natural alternatives to costly barriers or walls,” she toldThe Echo. “The Lake Windermere Ambassadors are also interested in the program for the benefits it could bringto water quality and fisheries, as well as the opportunity to reach out to second homeowners keen to pioneer theprogram on Lake Windermere.”
According to Peloso, Lake Windermere is an excellent candidate for this program, which will use mappingalready completed by the East Kootenay Integrated Lake Management Partnership (EKILMP) to identify areas ofhigh potential impact for restoration. The two-to-three-year program includes community consultation, trainingworkshops, technical webinars, monthly teleconferences, and access to Green Shores resources and materials.Until 2019, 50 per cent of the total cost of restoring natural shoreline is covered by grants, meaning that thetotal cost of bringing the program to Lake Windermere for its first year would be $7,500 and then $5,000 a yearfor subsequent years.
Peloso recommended that RDEK and District of Invermere share the cost of the program, outlining that the LakeWindermere Ambassadors would provide the necessary public outreach and co-ordination support in their role as Lake Management Committee, as well as participate in Green Shores training.