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Area C completes official community plan
After seven years, 15 meetings and several public hearings, South Shuswap has an official community plan – if Victoria adds its stamp of approval.
Back in the planning seat to finish the often contentious project he embarked on in 2006, Columbia Shuswap Regional District Parks and Recreation manager Marcin Pachcinski drew praise and laughs from the board at its regular meeting on Sept. 12.
“I wasn’t sure if I was gonna live long enough, but I have,” he said with a grin. “I am happy to be here to recommend third reading.”
After a raucous meeting last year, Pachcinski says about 71 members of the public showed up for a third public meeting this August, engaging in healthy debate.
“Now it goes to the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development for their approval,” he says. “Assuming they approve it, they’ll send it back and we can bring it back to the board for final adoption of the bylaw.”
While several directors praised Pachcinski for his hard work and commitment, Area F North Shuswap director Larry Morgan expressed concerns.
“I wish to go on record as saying I am not happy with what I can see of the Area ‘C’ OCP,” he said, pointing out that while he did not wish to meddle in the affairs of another electoral area, he was deeply concerned by the nature, tone and direction of the document.
One of his concerns is that in the preamble, the OCP is described as being one of the CSRD’s most important documents, something Morgan fears will influence OCPs in other electoral areas.
“Not only will it influence other area OCPs, it is itself, heavily influenced by its many references to SLIPP-like material,” he said of the Shuswap Lake Integrated Planning Process he has opposed. “There is even specific mention of making an effort to work with SLIPP, even though a continuation of SLIPP, at least in its current form, is still a matter of process.”
Morgan expressed fear the “over-bearing, if not outright suffocating” OCP document would become the basis for a master plan that would be setting policy and direction for the entire Shuswap.
“The underlying theme of the OCP would suggest that it discourages development, it dampens free enterprise, and it attempts to over manage recreational and tourism activities in the Shuswap – the cornerstone of our regional economy,” he said, reading from a document on his phone. “There is even a section on recreational boating, which appears to have been lifted directly from the SLIPP Recreational Management Plan.”
Area C South Shuswap director Paul Demenok was quick to respond, advising the South Shuswap OCP reflects the will of the residents.
“I didn’t realize an OCP is contagious and, if it’s part of a conspiracy, I haven’t seen evidence of that,” he said. “I think staff have done a great job stick-handling over the years. Is it a perfect OCP? No, it’s a living, breathing document and I congratulate Marcin on a job well-done.”
Praising Pachcinsky for his work and patience, Area E Rural Sicamous director Rhona Martin observed that each electoral area can have more than one OCP.
“Each plan area can have their say,” she added.
“I have seen Marcin handle himself at some very difficult meetings and I am grateful for that. If people don’t want regulations, you put a bit of sweet on it, so thank you.”
Area D Falkland-Silver Creek-Ranchero director René Talbot teased Pachcinski, saying it took 11 years to get one in his area.
“People need to realize an OCP is a guiding tool to say how you want to see your community grow, and built into that is that it can be reviewed every five years.”
While he may have to write the memo that accompanies the provincial decision on the Area C OCP, probably in two to four months, Pachcinski can now finally let go of planning and give his full attention to matters of parks and recreation.