Large turnout at Fairmont OCP planning workshop

A group of approximately 115 Fairmont Hot Springs residents attended.

A group of approximately 115 Fairmont Hot Springs residents attended the Fairmont Hot Springs and Columbia Lake AreaOCP-Community Planning Workshop on Wednesday, August 24th. Residents heard about what’s happening with projects within their community with updates from Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Area F director Wendy Booth while RDEK planner Kris Belanger spoke about the concerns raised at the previous meeting on May 16th, 2016.

At the August 24th meeting, Booth informed the public on the sale of land by the airport for the creation of a base ofColumbia Valley operations for Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting. as well as Sunchaser Villas applying for rezoning so each villa can be on its own title.

A project of note that Director Booth spoke of were upgrades coming to Columbia Lake Provincial Park, particularly the eastside area. Booth did mention the regional district is not responsible for the upgrades, that the project is BC Parks, but she wanted to inform the public on what she knows regarding the state of the park. She stated the dirt road into the park wil lreceive significant upgrading, primarily grating done to the road, plus the addition of a walking path, picnic area and informational kiosks educating about the Ktunaxa significance of the area. Residents were informed about the possibility of a second gate being added to the area to protect the grasslands area of the park. Booth was able to confirm that no boat launch will be included in the upgrading project.

After an update of what projects are happening in the community, the official community plan workshop kicked off.Residents were informed of the concerns that were discussed at the May 16th meeting. Major concerns included residential and commercial development, Columbia Lake, wildlife conservation, transportation, wildfire management and preservation of rural character.

Kris Belanger, lead planner for the new official community plan, then went over the results of the REDK survey sent to residents regarding the plan. The survey received 329 responses, 57 per cent of which were from seasonal residents. The survey highlighted that residents would like the rate of growth of the community to stay the same. Three-quarters of responses said they would like to see residential development in existing development areas. The community survey results indicated that single-family lots followed by one- to five-acre results are the most desired developments.

For commercial development, the survey indicated development is preferred in the Fairmont Hot Springs belt with an emphasis on local business with any industrial growth to happen in the Canal Flats area. The survey found 87 per cent of the community in support of agriculture development for the area.

After completing an overview of the community survey, the residents in attendance were then polled on their opinions regarding community planning issues. A majority of people at the meeting agreed to support development permits for wildfire areas and hazardous areas such as floodplains. There was also support for the idea to have a parks and recreation area that the RDEK would service completely separate from the existing Columbia Recreation Service Area.

For 47 per cent of those in attendance, a development permit for environmentally sensitive areas is something they would have to see in draft form in order to fully support. Finally, the community members were polled on moorage on ColumbiaLake residents said they would like it to stay the same.

The official community plan is a long-term strategic planning document, outlining the community’s long-term vision. InFairmont Hot Springs and Columbia Lake Area, the last official plan was created in 2004 with 26 amendments over the years. The regional district has decided to update the plan to match the growth, vision and provide policies that match current issues within the area. RDEK will take into consideration residents concerns and viewpoints heard at both meetings while they develop the new official community plan.