The process of creating a new Official Community Plan (OCP) for the Fairmont Hot Springs and Columbia Lake area has begun.
“It is anticipated that public consultation will commence in November,” said Andrew McLeod, Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) manager of planning and development services. “People will likely be receiving a newsletter, questionnaire in their mailbox and an invitation to one or more introductory public meetings for the planning process.”
The RDEK Board of Directors recently authorized the decision to start preparing a new OCP, as the existing OCP for the area was adopted in 2004.
“Part of it is to check in with residents and landowners of the area to see what their needs and priorities are,” said Mr. McLeod. “If the current plan is meeting their needs or not — and if not, what needs to be changed.”
The OCP from 2004 extends south from Lake Windermere and includes Fairmont Hot Springs, the communities down the west side of Columbia Lake, which includes Columbia Ridge estates.
“What we’re proposing, at least on a preliminary basis, is to expand the boundary of the plan to include the other private land holdings that exist in Electoral Area F south of Fairmont, specifically Whitetail Lake, Findlay Creek and Whiteswan Lake,” said Mr. McLeod, “and other properties around Columbia Lake.”
Mr. McLeod encourages the Columbia Valley community to keep an eye on the RDEK website for updates about the OCP.
Parks Plan Amended
The Wilmer Community Park (formerly known as Selkirk Park) will now be designated as an Electoral Area G Regional Park.
“What that means is that it will become part of our RDEK park’s plan,” said Kevin Paterson, RDEK environmental services manager. “Hence the amendment. It’s essentially just a green space that the RDEK will have the responsibility for maintaining and looking after.”
The RDEK’s Crown lease was recently renewed and the Province has approved RDEK’s management plan for the park.
“We went to the community on to see what their level of interest was in terms of the RDEK acquiring the licence of occupation for it and they felt that they would like the RDEK to operate rather than have it go back to the Crown,” said Mr. Paterson, noting there was no desire to develop the area. “Beyond basic things, we’ll look at some signage, if there’s any dangerous tree issues or anything like that. We’ll look at that from the RDEK’s perspective but there’s no developments at this time.”
Fuel Management Funding
A request for fuel management funding for Panorama has been submitted.
The RDEK has submitted an application for funding under the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative Program for a fuel management prescription at Panorama Mountain Resort through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM). If the application for Fuel Management Funding is successful, the RDEK will administer the grant funding.
“Hopefully they’ll be successful because it’s a two-part application,” said Sanford Brown, RDEK building and protective services manager.. “This part is for prescription, which means they will hire a consultant or a forester who will go in and say, ‘Ok, this is how we’re going to do the fuel management in this area’… and it also gives an estimate as to the costs.”
Eddie fees stay the same
Ice skaters and their families may be relieved to find out that there are no anticipated changes to user costs at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena in spite of the operational changes that have taken place.
There was a Regulation and Fee Bylaw adopted to allow the RDEK to keep the user fees and rental rates consistent with those of the Columbia Valley Recreation Society for the 2015-16 season.
“All of the clubs and organizations that currently have user agreements with the Columbia Valley Recreation Society will be renewing those under the RDEK name and there won’t be any changes to those,” added Mr. Paterson. “We certainly don’t want to disrupt any of the programs or activities that are going on there… and we want to quell any rumours that the rates are going to go up or anything.”
In addition, there were no changes made to staffing throughout the transition of the agreement.
“The RDEK is just transitioning (staff) from the Columbia Valley Recreation Society to our organization but I think it’s important to point out that the rec society has done a fantastic job of operating the facility for the past number of decades, I think, almost,” he added. “They did a fantastic job and all of their staff have been retained and it will be business as usual. There won’t be any disruption because it’s not a hostile take over by any stretch. We’re working with them and transitioning.”
Fire protection service area boundary set to change
There is a proposal to move the Juniper Heights area from the Invermere Rural Fire Service area into the Windermere Fire Service boundary, which would extend to include properties on Toby Creek Road and Larch Point.
“Some new residents are going to be included in the fire services, that’s the large point community and Toby Creek Road,” said Sanford Brown, RDEK building and protective services manager. “It’s not final yet, but they’re in the process of being included.”
The RDEK has read the proposed bylaw three times and will now be submitting the application to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development for approval before returning to RDEK for approval.
If it’s approved, the service changes will be in effect during 2016.
Spur Valley water upgrade nearing completion
A well and a treatment facility with a chlorination system were recently installed in the area under the Spur Valley Water Upgrade plans.
The process aims to transfer ownership of the water system from the Spur Valley Improvement District (SVID) to the RDEK, which requires the SVID to dissolve through a provincial order in council.
“Spur Valley petitioned some time ago for us to take over the water system and proceed with upgrades to the water system to remove the boil water notice,” said Brian Funke, RDEK engineering services manager. “We went ahead with those plans and the board approved funding towards Spur Valley… the upgrades are now completed.”
The RDEK and SVID have signed an operations agreement that allows the RDEK to assume the operations of the Spur Valley Water System until the SVID has been dissolved and the ownership is transferred to the RDEK.