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Council nixes community plan

Elected officials call for land-use regulations in rural areas

City of Powell River council voted at a special council meeting on June 23 not to support an official community plan (OCP) for rural areas south of town.

The motion, which passed unanimously, stated that council did not support the Powell River Regional District (PRRD) southern region OCP bylaw for the following reasons: most of the progressive and well-intentioned OCP policies and objectives are ineffective without some commitment to regulatory measures to support them; region-wide planning, growth and land-use strategies for the stated purposes of sustainability cannot be supported without some commitment to land-use and on-the-ground development controls; and voluntary compliance to development permit areas and riparian protection, safety codes and environmentally sensitive areas is not adequate to meet the objectives set out in the bylaw.

Regina Sadilkova, the city’s former manager of development services, made the recommendation to not support the OCP. In her report, she noted that the issue of regulation of any kind and to any extent in the rural areas of the regional district is controversial.

“While the OCP contains a great number of indisputably positive objectives supporting water quality/protection, local agriculture, the environment, GHG [greenhouse gas] emission reduction, sustainability and so forth, there is little commitment to seeing these through as to what happens on the ground,” she wrote. “Subdivision, which is administered by MOTI [ministry of transportation and infrastructure], whereby applications are referred to the PRRD, is the exception.”

Councillor Debbie Dee, a city director on the regional board, said the OCP for Electoral Areas B and C has been a contentious issue. “I also think there needs to be some sort of land-use regulations within the regional district, otherwise it’s just going to end up as a hodge-podge of industrial that tries to squeak its way out of the city to avoid regulation,” she said.

Councillor Chris McNaughton, the other city director on the regional board, pointed out that neither he nor Dee can vote on the OCP. As well, the OCP will be referred to a list of agencies and to Tla’Amin (Sliammon) First Nation. “We are simply giving the city’s perspective, which I also concur is important,” he said. “I support the resolution.”