For a small village that’s in dire need of some building blocks on which to found a community in need of growth, it does seem contradictory that a majority of Canal Flats villagers are vocally opposed to a development that promises to almost double the population at peak times during the year.
Since having suffered the huge loss of almost 100 layoffs by Canfor at its Canal Flats mill, local officials have been pushing forward with a new branding initiative for the village in an effort to attract more outside investment in the form of new visitors, new residents and new businesses.
It would be a difficult sell to convince serious business owners to set up shop in Canal Flats when there is hardly the population to support any new ventures.
As it stands, the village sustains one small grocery story, one pub, one restaurant as well as some standard amenities like a hockey arena, community hall and elementary school — all with a population of about 800, of which 400 signed the petition opposing the proposed RV resort that has villagers up in arms.
What council needs to do at this point is address the concerns it heard at the public hearing by asking the developer for more information prior to making a decision.
No environmental studies have been requested of the developer at this point because they come at a cost that isn’t worth justifying until the project garners enough support. But now that public sentiment has been gauged and is clearly in favour of protecting Columbia Lake and the surrounding pristine wilderness, it’s up to council to demand — and the developer to supply — data that appeases these concerns. Also, consideration should be given to whether or not temporary residents qualify for free use of the community boat launch.
If the results are satisfactory, then the application can be further refined or ultimately the rezoning bylaw is denied. It’s a gamble the developer should be forced to take prior to council approving the bylaw.