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Letter: Time for land use discussion in qathet Regional District

I read the February 2 article regarding land use regulatory options in electoral areas A, B and C of qathet Regional District (qRD) with great interest [“ qathet Regional District plans land use public engagement ," February 2] .
Powell River Peak letter to editor
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I read the February 2 article regarding land use regulatory options in electoral areas A, B and C of qathet Regional District (qRD) with great interest [“qathet Regional District plans land use public engagement," February 2].

My wife and I moved to the Powell River area several years ago to be closer to family. As we have horses, we were in the market for acreage. Naturally, we searched in rural qRD for a suitable home. We did find some attractive land, but none of the houses were acceptable.

As a former architect, I recognized many of these homes had a number of problems. Because building permits are not required, there were no documents and inspection records to verify these homes were properly constructed. qRD is an outlier in this case as every regional district in the province with a comparable or greater population has these requirements.

A building code ensures homes and other buildings are constructed in a manner that will protect the life and health safety of the building’s occupants. These codes also address climate change by including energy efficiency standards.

We bought in Area C and built a new home to code with a certified builder. During the build, I discovered that while there is an official community plan, lack of a zoning bylaw makes that document nothing more than a statement of intentions. Wildly conflicting uses can and do end up next door to each other. For example, a fabricating plant could be built and operate 24/7 in a residential neighbourhood.

Zoning bylaws provide order to development by regulating use as well as size and siting of buildings. They serve to reduce conflicts between landowners and provide future development certainty to neighbourhood members. Zoning is also a useful tool to regulate environmental factors such as groundwater, drainage and protection of delicate features such as riparian areas.

During discussion of initiating a public engagement process to discuss the issue, Area B director Mark Gisborne stated he opposed. He also stated there is no need to “reeducate them on why they should pay more in taxes to have more regulations and be more restricted.” This director is obviously not approaching the matter with an open mind. Thankfully no other directors supported him.

This discussion will be contentious, but it should also be respectful and informed. Residents in areas under discussion should read the Land Use and Development Regulatory Options feasibility report, available online in theAgenda for Planning Committee Meeting of April 14, 2020. The document is required reading to facilitate an informed discussion of this important issue.

Tim Larsen
McLean Road