About three dozen residents turned out to provide input to the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) on the current revisions being considered to South Cariboo Official Community Plan (OCP) at one of its three community open houses held last week (March 6-8).
These were the final events for community members to provide comments and feedback on the draft OCP, although there is still time for residents to present their thoughts in a survey before its final release.
The CRD strongly encourages all residents in the OCP areas (including for the separate Lac la Hache OCP) to complete the surveys by the deadline of March 31 to provide their feedback, to let the CRD know if these draft documents accurately reflect their values and concerns.
CRD Area G Director Al Richmond said OCP updates are community-driven processes, so it's imperative to understand and to consider what each community wants and needs before setting the key processes they control into place.
The first of these open houses drew about a dozen people out the 108 Mile Community Hall on March 6.
Richmond said he wasn't too surprised it was less than when the OCP was developed, seeing as this meeting was about revisions, and it was clear to him that "the people who were there, were there to participate, which is very important."
Some of the feedback voiced was surrounding temporary and short-term accommodation, and Richmond noted the Area G residents were "clearly not supportive" of short-term rentals, as he and CRD staff "heard that pretty loud and clear."
Resident complaints had been received in the past about neighbouring homeowners renting out their houses for weekends or weekly visitors, creating a "motel-type atmosphere" and partying noise next to family residences, he explained.
"What we're doing now [in the OCP] is formally bringing in the ability for people to apply for a temporary permit to [rent for less than 30 days], which gives us more control over it." Richmond says this still doesn't go far enough for some residents.
Staff will bring the residents' feedback, on this change and all the others being considered, to the volunteer advisory group for review and consideration before the OCP goes to the board for approval, and then forward to the public hearing process, before final adoption.
Richmond said most people at the 108 Mile Ranch open house seemed "quite happy" with the OCP, including with some streamlined zoning processes.
At the Lone Butte-Horse Lake Community Hall on March 7, residents questioned Arlington Group registered planner Graham Forstad, CRD Area L Director Brian Coakley and CRD planning officer Francesca Sanna about several aspects of the presentation maps, charts, and lake water quality studies.
Some residents commented about concerns with Horse Lake water quality and levels.
Forstad explained the Horse Lake water is tested and monitored regularly, and the District of 100 Mile House now relies on well water supply, only supplementing that from Bridge Creek water drawn (and treated) further downstream.
Lakeside setbacks, trails, a seasonal algae bloom in the water and future lake plans were also discussed.
Forstad explained most of the setback for new development is 15 metres, except in a few "very small areas" such as near the Bridge Creek outflow, and some small streams in its watershed to also help protect the Canim Lake aquifer.
Among the many aspects of an OCP outlined in the presentation, he pointed out some plans that help CRD area directors make decisions on a number of important community matters.
These include land use decisions, environmental protection, and even the look and feel of an area (such as the log detail common to commercial building designs in central Lone Butte).
A dozen residents turned out to the third South Cariboo OCP open house at the Forest Grove Community Hall on March 8.
Area H director Margo Wagner said later she was "really happy" with a turnout of 12 people considering her "smaller area" community.
"There was really no negative comment with regard to what was presented with the OCP, but the lack of public transportation did come up – and that has been a constant throughout, and [so] was mentioned briefly in the new OCP. It needs to be addressed."
The residents expressed appreciation for the new OCP draft, including some positive comments about its new designation for industrial areas to be created later with less rigmarole, should the need arise, she explained.
All the CRD presenters noted OCPs are one of the more important planning documents for a community.
More information about both area OCPs and survey access is available online at www.cariboord.ca.
For results from the Lac la Hache OCP open house held March 9, see A3.