District holds public meeting for zoning bylaw

Is zoning important? More than 85 Clearwater residents seem to think so.

Is zoning important? More than 85 Clearwater residents seem to think so.

That’s how many turned out for a public information session on District of Clearwater’s proposed new zoning bylaw.

The session was held at Dutch Lake Community Centre on Tuesday evening, Oct. 6.

Main speakers were Regina Sadilkova, the director of development services with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, and Alex Krause, a TNRD planner.

The regional district handles the planning function under contract with District of Clearwater.

Zoning is the most basic land use control used to determine how a community develops, Sadilkova said.

Power to control zoning comes from the Local Government Act.

She emphasized that the session was for information purposes only and not a formal hearing.

The current Zoning Bylaw 0940 is 30 years old and written for the TNRD, she said.

District of Clearwater recently spent three years producing a new official community plan (OCP). It is standard procedure, after a new OCP is developed, to flout up with a new or amended zoning bylaw so the two documents do not conflict.

The proposed new Zoning Bylaw 133 would be shorter and more flexible than the old one, she said.

“We don’t want a bylaw big enough to stun a bear,” Sadilkova said.

One main highlight of the new bylaw would be that there would only be 17 zones as compared to the 33 in the present bylaw, said Alex Krause.

Another major change would be that rules regarding the floodplain would be in a separate bylaw.

There would be a new mixed-use zone for the Riverside Centre, which refers to Brookfield Mall (presently in receivership) and the area around it. The new zone would enable a broader mix of commercial, residential and home-based businesses.

For a time, land use contracts (LUC) were used as an alternative to zoning. Four of the five LUCs within Clearwater will be replaced by zoning. The exception is the property at the northwest corner of Dutch Lake.

Some properties will see zoning changes to reflect existing land use, Krause said.

Others will see their zoning change to align with the OCP – but this will apply to vacant land only.

Realtor Randy Hedlund said that, if a person does a search for the zoning of certain properties, the result shows the proposed new zoning, not the current zoning.

The TNRD representatives said that had not been their intent and would investigate to see if there was a computer problem.

Hedlund also suggested that, as part of the process, property owners should be informed about what impact rezoning could have on their taxes.

Sadilkova said they did not have the expertise to do that and suggested that people should ask BC Assessment if they have questions.

Roger Dhir, a developer from the Lower Mainland with several properties in Clearwater, complained that land he controls next to Highway 5 between the Buy-Low shopping center and Wells Gray Inn would be re-zoned residential under the proposed bylaw.

The land should be developed as commercial property and tens of thousands of dollars have already been spent, he said.

Sherry Elliot asked about limitations on the number of farm animals they could have on their property in Sunshine Valley.

Alex Krause replied that possibly their property would be one that should not be re-zoned.

“Let us re-evaluate. That’s why we’re here tonight,” the TNRD planner said.

Carol Radcliff asked about chickens in the Dutch Lake area.

She was told that possibly they could be grandfathered (permitted until the property is sold) but that would depend on whether the animals are allowed under the present zoning.

Jeff Lamond asked about kennels.

There is a lot of case law regarding kennels and dogs, said Regina Sadilkova, and that has been used in drafting the proposed bylaw.

She noted that the new bylaw would not define the number of dogs allowed.

One member of the audience said he was unhappy with provisions in the proposed bylaw that define what is allowed. In a free country, laws should only tell us what we should not do, he felt.