Don't impose regulations and zoning controls on us, say area E residents

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
July 1st, 2010


As one of the few areas in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) to actually have population growth since 2001, the rural area around Bridesville is under pressure for development. Land values are increasing, residential sub-divisions are moving in from the Okanagan, and land is being bought for purely speculative purposes. As an area that traditionally has been used for mining, skiing and agriculture, the pressure for change can be positive and negative for residents. Donna Dean and Mark Andision of the planning department for the RDKB, came to Bridesville with Area Director Bill Baird to see if there is an interest to create an official community plan that would direct future development in the area. While the people present were very polarized in their views, it was clear that people do not want a lot of regulations imposed on them.

“If you had a community plan it would make the decision-making more community based. We don’t have any local policies in place to protect that land or give any direction about what parcel sizes should be in the area. It’s an opportunity to protect those characteristics of the area that the community values,” explained Dean to the crowd of over 75 people.

Although Dean gave an overview of what an OCP process and final result might be like, there was confusion over the possibility of over-regulation by the RDKB. Many of the residents of the area do not want a lot of complications for their properties.

“This zoning debate has been going on for over 30 years. I have a problem having zoning in our entire area. I don’t believe zoning, well in the town of Bridesville it might be o.k., and in Rock Creek, and I believe it is just great up there on Baldy to have some kind of bylaws to keep things in some kind of orderly fashion so that it actually becomes something that is a credit to our community. But I don’t want somebody telling me in the town of Bridesville what I can do, and how high to build my building, hayshed or whatever,” said local resident Art Harfman.

Andison, as well as Dean, explained that an OCP can be approved without any zoning bylaws and can be a soft approach to planning. Ultimately, Dean said, it is up to the people in the community who develop the plan to say what should be included.


Other residents see a definite need for controls. Two years ago a developer wanted to place a motocross track on his land but his neighbours were not too pleased with the potential for noise and traffic near their homes. Andison said that without some kind of plan, the RDKB cannot limit land uses in any way. If there were a plan in place, the district could immediately respond to applications for specific uses, but without the plan the only organization with a say would be the Agricultural Land Reserve if the land is within their scope.

Another resident, Sharen Gibbs, said that the area is not big enough for regulations and that they need to encourage more development – both residential and industrial – and regulations might discourage community growth needed to sustain jobs and schools. Other residents voiced concerns for lack of control over environmental issues, and the debate swung back and forth.

A straw vote taken near the end of the meeting showed pretty much a 50 / 50 split on the idea of proceeding with an OCP. A referendum was suggested for the next election in 2011 to get more people who may be impacted to vote. Director Baird and the planning staff will be exploring what the next steps will be, but names of interested participants for a committee if the planning moves ahead.

This land use debate is not new to the area, and resident Mike Dorranch would like to see a process so that the conflict can end.

“The discussions about planning and the conflict and people being disgruntled about the situation are going to continue until we get some kind of a process for building a community. And that’s what it needs. The people moving to the Regal Ridge development are going to vote and they are going to demand services. This discussion will continue until we get some kind of a plan,” said Dorranch.

Categories: Politics