Letter: Not happy with land application
A recent subdivision application in the Ha Ha Creek valley has proved an eye opener for area residents. The subdivision was approved despite:
• being much smaller than the community norm;
• in a dangerous location transportation wise;
• the lots being split by a homeowners road;
• being in the ALR;
• putting additional pressure on the existing infrastructure and;
• potentially changing the composition and character of the valley.
The startling aspects were that no home owners were contacted prior to the subdivision application being approved, that this notification is not required and that none of the concerns this subdivision created were considered.
Our area representative has said that the committee that approved the subdivision is relying on the Agricultural Land Commission and the Department of Transportation to look into these and other issues when the application makes its way to them. Effectively, the committee is abdicating its responsibility to area residents and is only considering the the desires of the subdividing land owner.
The effect of this is further magnified as there is no mechanism for community input at any of these levels and there is no mechanism of accountability at two of the three levels. Granted, our zone representative could be voted out but that is only long after the damage is done. The other two departments are in no way accountable for any decision made.
There is also no mechanism for any of the decisions to be appealed by the community. In a time when increased transparency and accountability is demanded, this is not acceptable.
The regional district planning department which advises the committee has not, according the the zone representative, taken into account these issues nor has it looked at the cumulative effect of the changes during the past several years. For example, the three mile road this subdivision is on had five homes on it a relatively short time ago. Now, potentially, 21 families can be located on it and that is just the subdivisions that are approved, not the ones that are hoped for.
This puts increased pressure on the roads, adds to wildfire risk, further changes the valley from agricultural to bedroom community in makeup, creates an increasingly dangerous situation where Ha Ha Creek road joins Highway 3 and more all without community input or representation by our representatives.
Even the zoning process which has been started for the area does not address the fundamental concerns of input on decisions that directly affect a person’s largest investment, their home.
To exacerbate the problem, none of this seemed to concern our zone representative enough for him to recommend changes in procedures, bylaws, the way the planning department works or the way input from a community is gathered. He recognized the potential hidden costs, the future costs, the cumulative effect and a host of other problems. This was not enough to have him be willing to advocate for change.
It would be easy to point a finger at our zone representative and lay the blame at his feet. However, this is a systemic problem within a flawed system and all representatives must share the blame because the same problem exists throughout the East Kootenays and all representatives are, at the least, tacitly supporting it.