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Letter: Engaged in land use

I’ve been a full-time resident of Texada Island since 2000, and have engaged with qathet Regional District on land use issues several times since then.
Powell River Peak letter
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I’ve been a full-time resident of Texada Island since 2000, and have engaged with qathet Regional District on land use issues several times since then. I’d like to rebut a few points from Tim Larsen’s letter [“Time for land use discussion in qathet regional district,” February 4].

Larsen advocates introducing building inspection into our region. He may not be aware that rural new residential construction and major home renovation in qathet has been actively regulated by the province since 2003. That’s when the BC Home Protection Office (now BC Housing) began administering the then-new provincial home warranty program.

As part of this program, provincial building inspectors visit qathet’s rural areas regularly to ensure compliance with the BC Building Code. 

Thus, we don’t need local residential building inspection because the province has been filling that role for the past 16 years. As for commercial building in the rural areas, there’s not much going on and people usually don’t live in commercial buildings, so it’s not worth setting up a local permit/inspection bureaucracy.

Larsen also wants us to conform to other regional districts that are more regulated. Conformity, by itself, is not a compelling reason for our region to adopt new land use regulations. If others want to pay locally for building inspectors, widespread zoning and tree-cutting enforcement, that’s their business. We dare to be different.

Larsen’s next complaint: he wants more zoning in our rural areas. He unfairly attacked Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne, who was properly representing his constituents when he voiced opposition to spending more public resources on this issue. Furthermore, Larsen may not have noted that Area D director Sandy McCormick has voted with Gisborne twice in the past few years in opposition to further discussion of more land use regulation in our region.  

Zoning was invented in New York City in 1916 to separate residential from industrial land uses in North America’s largest city. It’s not appropriate for widespread application in rural qathet. Conventional zoning today hasn’t changed all that much in the last 100 years and is increasingly outmoded, often leading to serious problems.

Several alternatives to zoning have been tried across the continent, including “no zoning” in some major cities. If Larsen wants more zoning for his rural area, I suggest he look at spot zoning just for his Area C neighbourhood. Spot zoning is well-established in qathet, so Gisborne and McCormick might support such a proposal.

The regional district consultant’s “feasibility study” referred to by Larsen is deeply flawed, and should be a must read to learn how public funds can be misspent on manipulating residents into being more heavily regulated than they need or want.

With all due respect, this discussion will affect residents in areas A, B, C and D, the actual scope of that feasibility study. A well-informed public discussion on land use regulation in qathet will require a fact base of truly unbiased research from several sources.

Tom Read
Raven Bay Road, Van Anda