A group of Horse Lake residents that turned out for a recent public hearing to protest a zoning change are now disappointed it received third reading by the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) on Dec. 12.
The move may lead to a number of lakeside properties applying to rezone Country Residential – many of them waterfront – and create significant subdivision.
Moe Conway and Bill Hawes are among those property owners concerned about Horse Lake water quality – both now and under any future development.
While there are “some good” requirements in the rezoning bylaw, such as locating new septic systems 60 metres from the lake, Conway says the “whole issue” for him is the quality of the water, which many residents use for drinking.
He noted the CRD’s planning staff has recommended against making the change.
The information presented to the public left out a key element in considering such a substantial increase in lot density, Conway explains.
“What I saw missing was nobody knows what the water is like. So, I went to the Ministry of Environment [MOE].”
A Nov. 13 MOE reply to Conway included summaries of water testing from 1979-2008, after which it had no data available on Horse Lake.
MOE impact assessment biologist Chris Swan states in her letter she has sampled, and is familiar with, Horse Lake, and she is “concerned about future development” there.
“In the [CRD] report Management Strategy for Lake Shoreland Development, Horse Lake is listed as very ‘high sensitivity’,” Swan writes.
“I would encourage further study of the water quality of Horse Lake by qualified limnologists [lake science experts] prior to any further development.”
Conway says he and Hawes want the public to be aware of the issues and to pressure their elected representatives “to force action to not only stop further lowering of the water quality, but to start to evaluate and improve the lake before it is too late.”
Hawes says he is “certainly seeing change” in the weed growth in the water after 30 years of owning property on the lake.
His major concern, shared by a number of his neighbours, is the future of Horse Lake and in what direction its water quality might be heading.
“My question is, why – what’s happening?”
Hawes says he can’t understand why the recommendations in the 1997 Bridge Creek Horse Lake Water Quality Assessment on water quality are not being heeded.
The report, which he quoted from at the public meeting, states “water quality should be a prime consideration of local planning authorities when evaluating applications for any future proposal for dense population along the lakeshore … future development should only be considered if it will not impact water quality.”
Hawes says he doesn’t understand why “all this money” gets spent on a report that does not appear to him, or Conway, as being part of the CRD’s development considerations.
Read what CRD Area L Director Brian Coakley has to say about the issue in the next edition of the 100 Mile House Free Press.