The Columbia Shuswap Regional District board opted to defer a decision on a rezoning application intended to have a private Mara Lake dock adjacent to the planned rail trail recognized as a permitted use.
At its Sept. 22 meeting, the board voted to defer the application after staff recommended it not be given first reading.
In a report to the board, planner Christine LeFloch explained the application pertains to one of several upland semi-waterfront properties on the west side of Mara Lake separated from their installed docks by a section of former railway bed now owned by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) for the future Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail.
The applicant would like to have their legal non-conforming dock recognized as a permitted use for their property.
In a presentation to the board, LeFloch explained at length the details informing staff’s recommendation against the application proceeding. In short, the proposal is contrary to the CSRD’s Lakes Zoning Bylaw which only permits docks on waterfront parcels; semi-waterfront property owners do not have riparian rights – in this case, the regional districts have riparian rights and an interest in protecting them, limiting liability with regard to the use of its property; and the rail trail is designed/zoned as a park and private docks are not supported in parks. LeFloch also said that in 2019, the board passed a resolution placing a moratorium on any new upland consent for encumbrances on the rail trail pending further review and development of a policy by the Rail Trail Technical Operational Committee. To date, no policy has been presented.
Electoral Area E (Rural Sicamous-Malakwa) director Rhona Martin spoke against staff’s recommendation and in support of the applicant.
“Our staff knows it’s no disrespect to them, they are having to go forward with the policies that we have put in place and they have to abide by that, but I would ask that the board defeat this motion, and then I would put forward a motion that it be given first reading and go out to the public,” said Martin.
However, Area C director Paul Demenok spoke next and, in the process, put forward a motion to defer the application, arguing it was premature to make a decision without consideration from RDNO or the rail trail’s governance advisory committee.
“The reality around Shuswap Lake is you have a multitude of semi-waterfront properties that have docks; I mean, I drive along Blind Bay road and that’s all you see,” said Demenok while sharing some of his concerns with the application. “They’re all legally non-conforming and the unintended consequence of that is, because people can’t repair them, but they want to maintain their dock, you have a whole pile of very rough looking docks that appear not to be safe to me in many cases, yet people will scramble to maintain that dock because they don’t want to lose them and they can’t rebuild them.”
The board gave unanimous approval to the deferral.
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