Village weighs in on density averaging for rural developers

Canal Flats council debated but ultimately decided not to support a regional district bylaw (No. 2593)

At its most recent meeting on Monday, February 23rd, Canal Flats council debated but ultimately decided not to support a regional district bylaw (No. 2593), which seeks to close a loophole for rural development of bare land strata properties.

In response to a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure approval that’s allowing the development of a 25-lot subdivision at Whitetail Lake, about 28 kilometres west of Canal Flats, the Regional District of East Kootenay is pursuing a bylaw to regulate density averaging on such properties, as a means to ensure the approval process stays with local government.

A 2010 rezoning application undertaken by the Whitetail Lake Land Corporation to develop the same land was rejected by the Regional District of East Kootenay before the provincial ministry issued a conditional approval for the work in December 2013.

After reading the proposed bylaw amendment, which would prohibit the use of density averaging in bare land strata subdivisions, Canal Flats councillor Marie Delorme said she felt the new bylaw would restrict innovative subdivision design, and fails to allow for a developer to accommodate for site-specific circumstances, such as a rock outcrop or otherwise hard-to-develop lot.

“This would really tie the hands of developers, especially in the Upper Columbia Valley,” she said.

Mayor Ute Juras reminded council that the regional district is simply seeking the village’s opinion on the bylaw, and that the bylaw has no effect on development within Canal Flats, only the area around it.

She also emphasized the bylaw speaks only to bare land strata development, not fee simple subdivision, which is a much more common kind of development.

“If any member of council feels it has detrimental effect outside our municipality, you should attend a public hearing put on by the regional district,” added chief administrative officer Brian Woodward. Councillor Karl Sterzer noted Canal Flats could in the future see similar development approaches in large land holdings around the community in regional district Area F.

The proposed bylaw has been brought forth by Area F director Wendy Booth, after a similar bylaw (2559), proposed by Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras, was defeated at the February 6th regional district meeting.

“The original bylaw would give regional district staff more opportunity to work with a developer, be creative, and look at covenants and other options,” said Mayor Juras. “This bylaw doesn’t allow for that.”

In the end, Canal Flats council’s response to the regional district is that “approval is not recommended due to reasons outlined below: decreased flexibility to accommodate site-specific circumstances.”


Interface fire work

Mild winter weather is helping to expedite forest fire risk reduction work around Canal Flats, councillor and interface fire committee member Paul Marcil told council. The contractor expects the work to continue right through until May and to finish next spring. Mr. Marcil added he was able to pitch in by lending one of the forestry workers a piece from his own chainsaw.


Job well done in Canfor fire

Canal Flats fire chief David Ferguson commended volunteer firefighters for their teamwork and efforts to adhere to safety guidelines while battling a fire that broke out at the Canfor mill on January 18th.

“We had to keep going back two or three times some days because of the complexity of the fire,” Mr. Ferguson wrote in his report to council. “It was really difficult to put out and may not be out yet. Canfor is really happy with how we did our job and is quite thankful.”

“It makes me feel all their time training was remembered and done with safety in mind at all times,” he added.


Slow month for building

No building permits were issued for Canal Flats in January, noted building inspector Al Domin in his monthly report to council.