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Lee Creek designation gets nod

Lee Creek joins other communities in the North Shuswap Official Community Plan as a Secondary Settlement Area.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors unanimously supported a staff recommendation to redesignate Lee Creek at the May 15 board meeting which was held in Falkland.

In presenting Bylaw 830-10 to the board, development services manager Gerald Christie explained the SSA designation is supported by Interior Health and the Ministry of Agriculture.

And while there was some heated opposition to the move by some Lee Creek residents, Christie said the majority were in favour.

At an April 15 public hearing attended by 83 people, 14 people spoke to the issue but only four were new submissions.

Although three of those speakers opposed the new bylaw, 115 of 174 written submissions received by CSRD were in favour of the move.

Christie provided an accounting of the submissions, noting there was duplication in both the for and against groups and some submissions came from as far away as Belgium and were therefore discounted.

Christie said the objectives of managing growth in Lee Creek by redesignating Lee Creek as a secondary settlement area  include: protect the natural habitat and agricultural land and preserve the area’s highly valued rural character; direct growth in an organized and desirable manner and provide a clear separation between rural and non-rural lands.

“This settlement pattern will also facilitate shorter vehicle trips as well as encourage more walking, bicycling and, potentially, the introduction of public transit,” said Christie, noting Lee Creek could also have a firehall under the new SSA designation.

Christie told directors Lee Creek is one of the most densely populated residential areas of the North Shuswap and the area’s advisory planning commission recommended approval.

Area F director Larry Morgan noted all the other smaller communities in the North Shuswap were designated secondary settlement areas except for Scotch Creek, which is a primary settlement area.

“The SSA will allow proponents to make application for rezoning and subdivision into strata or fee simple lots and will allow for the elimination of undivided interests,” he said.

That is just one of the issues that worries Lee Creek resident Veronica Bene, who has been vocal in her opposition.

Following the decision, Bene called the decision-making process flawed.

“It’s water under the bridge now,” she said with resignation Friday, still worried about the possibility of rampant development in an area she believes should remain rural. “It’s done, it’s sad. I think some of the rationale they used is wrong.”

But both Morgan and Christie are adamant that any new development proposal would have to go through the regional district’s development process and would have to stand on its own merits.

Area D director René Talbot told Christie he had received emails warning of potential damage to the foreshore, particularly negative impacts on the Adams River sockeye salmon run.

But Christie noted there are stringent protection mechanisms in place for any development near the lake, including the riparian area regulation.

“That doesn’t minimize concerns of people but I don’t think it’s justified,” he said.

Area C South Shuswap director Paul Demenok asked why a consultant originally recommended Lee Creek not be designated a secondary settlement area when the OCP was being created four-and-a-half years ago.

Christie said that in searching regional district records, staff discovered a map that did indeed designate Lee Creek as a secondary settlement area.

“The original first version of Electoral Area ‘F’ OCP Bylaw No. 830 designated Lee Creek as a Secondary Settlement Area,” he said. “Public discussion and input resulted in the removal of the SSA designation from the Lee Creek neighbourhood prior to first reading of that bylaw.”

Christie noted that from those initial discussions, the map was created by the consultants and presented to the OCP committee outlining the extent of a proposed Lee Creek SSA.

“The boundary proposed at that time is the same boundary now proposed in Bylaw 830-10,” he said.

Following the board meeting, Morgan said he had received emails confirming this information from Pat and Gord Robertson, who sat on the original committee.

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