Progress continues on an official community plan for Electoral Area E, but gauging public opinion on the document may be made difficult by COVID-19 .
At their meeting on Aug. 20, Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board of directors approved the first reading of a bylaw which would create the official community plan (OCP) for rural Sicamous-Malakwa.
Regional district staff are now be able to begin a public engagement process to allow residents to weigh in on the OCP. However, staff recognize the pandemic will create challenges for when it comes to public engagement, so the they are taking steps to ensure everyone gets their say.
The plan will also be referred to local First Nations and other government groups.
Work on an Area E community plan has been going on since 2008. According to the CSRD delays were caused by the large Swansea Point Landslide in 2012, as well as legislation changes which required additional research and updates to information going into the plan.
Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin welcomed the introduction of the bylaw to create the OCP, but said due to the delays, comprehensive public consultation on the matter is essential.
Once completed, the OCP will be the primary tool to guide future development in Area E. OCPs serve as the foundation for all policies, regulations and decisions about land use and development. The plan will cover the area’s economic, environmental and social well being as well as transportation and the provision of community amenities and services.
A number of goals were set out for the OCP. It will establish development permit areas and be used to set greenhouse gas emission targets and policies regarding climate change. Other uses will include advocating for safe and affordable housing, encouraging active transportation and promoting co-operation with other local governments and First Nations.
According to the regional district, the OCP will reflect the status quo of development in the area with significant agricultural and rural residence uses maintained.