Get in while the paper’s blank

If you wanted a good, local example of a catch-22, the third Lake Windermere Management Plan open house is a good place to start.

If you wanted a good, local example of a catch-22, the third Lake Windermere Management Plan implementation open house is a good place to start.

Where local governments usually draw fire for coming up with plans behind closed doors and then presenting them to the public, the frustration at this December 29 meeting went the other way — ire that the Regional District of East Kootenay and District of Invermere were looking for comment on a plan that at this point doesn’t really exist.

Both points of view are understandable, though. The illusion of back room deals helps no one, but the experience of being asked questions about something you don’t understand is also deeply unpleasant, as anyone who ever failed to study for a high school test they should have well knows.

A question and answer session — first public one in the process to date — was a good first step. Even on the water, land use issues tend to be easier to understand with some specialized knowledge, and there’s often room for misinterpretation. Having local elected officials provide some specific examples of things residents can accept or reject probably didn’t hurt either.

Most interesting, from this paper’s perspective, is the number of potential consequences raised at the meeting — all of which could or could not come to pass, depending on how this plan gets written.

While talking to The Echo, Area F director Wendy Booth said she wants to see the district draft a bylaw that will be “respected” and that residents will want to “buy into.”

Staff plan to make their first stab at drafting resolutions in the next couple months. If you have concerns about the plan — which is broken down in detail at rdek.bc.ca — now’s the time to let officials what you won’t buy into, or clarify what they’re asking for at all.

It may take a bit of work, but if there’s one other thing the latest open house suggested it’s this: if 70 people show up to a public information session two days before New Year’s Eve, there’s an appetite for it.

Valley Echo