Skip to content

4-3 split vote defeats rail trail rezoning in Sicamous

‘But it’s not bringing the town together, it’s dividing the town.’
In 4-3 split, Sicamous council defeated the rezoning required to start work on the rail trail, with those opposed citing too many unanswered questions during discussion at the Feb. 14 council meeting. (Black Press file photo)

In a four to three vote, Sicamous council defeated a zoning amendment needed to begin work within the district on the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail.

After a public hearing, during which a number of residents shared concerns regarding trail crossings, access and parking, the majority of council agreed at its Feb. 14 meeting that while they support the idea of the rail trail, there are still some items to be worked out prior to moving forward.

The primary concern of most residents, rail crossings and related agreements between property owners and the trail’s owners, the Columbia Shuswap and North Okanagan regional districts and Splatsin, was also one of the main issues for Coun. Ian Baillie.

“I view these crossing agreements as government run amok. I don’t think they’re needed,” he said, comparing them to needing permission to cross a sidewalk or use a park. “The government has a number of different ways how we regulate the use of public land…”

He added that what started as a project to unite and benefit the community is now having the opposite effect.

“Everybody here tonight, there’s a love of this town that you can feel… and to me, that was what the spirit of the rail trail should have been… that it brings the town together,” said Baillie. “But it’s not bringing the town together, it’s dividing the town.”

Members of council in favour of changing the land designation from R-1 residential to P-3 Park-General said it was just the rezoning they were approving, though at the Jan. 24 meeting the Splatsin Development Corporation had said they anticipated a March start date. With too many questions remaining, Coun. Siobhan Rich said it’s just too soon.

“We’re not ready,” she stated. “The horse is in front of the cart right now and we need to make sure we have our ducks in a row, and we don’t.”

Coun. Gord Bushell agreed, citing the many unknowns that council still doesn’t have answers to, which they should before proceeding.

“There’s no access, there’s no parking, and the safety concern across the bridge, no bylaws, nobody knows who’s going to police it,” Coun. Gord Bushell pointed out. “It’s not that I’m saying ‘no’, I just think we need to sit down with our CSRD… I can’t go ahead with this knowing there’s no plan.”

On the flip side, Coun. Bob Evans felt that those could be addressed as they go, and declared his intention of voting in favour because “we have to put the truck in first gear to get things going.”

Though Coun. Malcolm Makayev and Mayor Colleen Anderson joined Evans on voting in favour of the rezoning, the motion was defeated with Coun. Pam Beech, Baillie, Bushell and Rich opposed.

Read more: ‘What’s up dock’: Questions loom over rail trail access in Sicamous

Read more: Work on Sicamous section of rail trail to start in March

About the Author: Heather Black

Read more