Community planning ahead for Wilmer and Dry Gulch

Wilmer and Dry Gulch will no longer be the only two communities in the Upper Columbia Valley that aren't part of an official community plan

Wilmer and Dry Gulch will no longer be the only two communities in the Upper Columbia Valley that aren’t part of an official community plan (OCP), after the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) voted to bring them into the plan for Area G.

After lengthy consultations with area residents and other stakeholders, the regional district board of directors gave first and second reading to a bylaw amendment to bring those two communities into the Steamboat-Jubilee Mountain OCP, which guides planning decisions for the rest of Area G, including Radium Resort.

“These are the two missing links,” said Area G director Gerry Wilkie.

A plan to amend the OCP has been in the works since last summer, and a public hearing is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, November 25th at the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce building at the Invermere crossroads.

Members of the public are invited to state their opinions on the amended OCP for the last time before it moves to third and fourth reading.

While the overarching philosophy of the Steamboat-Jubilee Mountain OCP won’t be changing, it will state the values, concerns and aspirations  of these particular communities, said Mr. Wilkie.

“The people of Wilmer virtually said, ‘We love our community the way it is; we don’t want things to change that much’, so we reflected that in the plan,” he said. “In the case of Dry Gulch, we are responding to a request for higher density in order to support the community’s longstanding need for an adequate water system. The development community can then work together to bring in a water system along with other agencies.”

Also written into the plan for both Dry Gulch and Wilmer is wetland protection.

“(The OCP)  will give that section of the valley a guidance for the people who live there and for people who are looking at developing for the foreseeable future,” said Mr. Wilkie.