The District of Sicamous’ proposed zoning bylaw prompted some unwelcome feedback from the transportation ministry.
Intended to replace the district’s current zoning bylaw, which dates back to 1993, Zoning Bylaw 1000 was up for second reading by council at its May 11 meeting.
“Zones regulate development and use of the land identified on the map as a specific zone,” reads a report from district development service manager Scott Beeching. “The new zoning bylaw, as proposed, recognizes the existing uses and will generally maintain the current zones, consolidating many of the comprehensive development zones with traditional zones.”
Included in Zoning Bylaw 1000 is language for short-term rentals, proposed to be regulated in individual zones and through general regulations.
Beeching explained the bylaw had been sent out for referrals, as required, to district departments, neighbouring First Nations, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and various provincial government ministries and agencies.
Beeching addressed one of the responses, from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), which did not support the proposed bylaw. He explained in a report to council that MOTI determined the bylaw would negatively impact Highways 1 and 97, and said the district had not provided any mitigation methods to help alleviate traffic resulting from the bylaw.
In a letter to the district, the ministry explained it is required to review all lots that fall within 800 metres of an intersection with a controlled access highway, and that it looked at each individual proposed zone to determine impacts to both highways.
“They’ve essentially asked for, I think it’s 17 traffic impact assessments and 23 assessments on properties,” said Beeching. “I think they’re being quite heavy handed to ask for those things.”
Beeching said staff has added wording to try to appease the ministry, and has made changes to zones and reduced density in a couple of areas. He said he’d like to get the bylaw to second reading so staff could continue its conversation with the ministry.
In its response, the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) provided recommendations on numerous points in the proposed bylaw. The CSRD asked to see foreshore zoning along the rail trail consisted with the regional district’s foreshore park zoning bylaw.
The biggest issue for council and staff, said Beeching, continues to be short-term rentals and where they’re going to be permitted.
Next steps, said Beeching, include coming up with a short-term rental bylaw and fine tuning it, and working with MOTI to get its approval. Regarding the latter, Coun. Malcolm Makayev suggested the district was being “held hostage” by the ministry’s lack of planning around the four-laning of Highway 1 through the community.
“Now they’ve turned around and held us hostage for more housing, and we need housing to accommodate workers and we need workers to accommodate economic growth in our community, so we’re being held hostage economically because of their lack of planning for four laning through our community,” said Makayev. “We’ve been pushing for that for eight years now and we have nothing. We’re not asking for construction, we’re just asking for design drawings that I’m sure would mitigate most of their concerns about traffic impacts.”
Coun. Gord Bushell expressed a similar sentiment toward MOTI, the ALC and the CSRD.
“My big concern is you wonder why our community has not grown, ever… All three of those agencies have too much say in our community, and I don’t think we should listen to them, to be blunt… they’re strangling our community…,” said Bushell. “We really have to take a look at their referrals and say, do we really even listen to this?”
“I think you nailed it because we’re actually controlled by outside sources and that’s what we’re fighting against on almost every occasion,” commented Mayor Terry Rysz.
Beeching explained the ministry’s approval of the bylaw is required. As for the ALC, he said, “It would be very tricky to do things that went against them, but if we’ve done our best to appease them but also keep the door open for future development as well… I think we probably are pretty good with the ALC.”
Council gave second reading to the bylaw.
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