Lee Creek has been designated as a secondary settlement area (SSA) in the North Shuswap official community plan.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District board voted unanimously, and without discussion, to adopt Bylaw 830-10 at the July 17 board meeting.
In her report to the board, development services assistant Jennifer Sham noted the secondary settlement area proposed for Lee Creek was originally left out of the OCP because of public “discussion and input.”
“In the four-and-a-half years since the adoption of Bylaw No. 830, some owners and developers within the Lee Creek area have approached the CSRD requesting the SSA be applied to Lee Creek in recognition of the existing residential densities,” wrote Sham. “In past referral correspondence, Interior Health stated their support to add Lee Creek as an SSA because it is the closest settlement to areas outside the North Shuswap.”
By creating an SSA, there will be less traffic and air pollution from residents and tourists travelling to and from Lee Creek for a variety of reasons, including business and shopping, among others, says Sham.
In presenting the bylaw to the board in May, development services manager Gerald Christie explained the SSA designation is also supported by the Ministry of Agriculture.
And while there was heated opposition to the move by some Lee Creek residents, Christie said the majority were in favour.
At an April 15 public hearing attended by 83 people, 14 people spoke to the issue but only four were new submissions. Although three of those speakers opposed the new bylaw, 115 of 174 written submissions received were in favour of the move.
Christie provided an account of the submissions, noting there was duplication in both the ‘for’ and ‘against’ groups, and that some submissions came from as far away as Belgium and were therefore discounted. He said the objectives of managing growth in Lee Creek by redesignating it as an SSA include: protect the natural habitat and agricultural land and preserve the area’s highly valued rural character; direct growth in an organized and desirable manner and provide a clear separation between rural and non-rural lands.
As well as facilitating shorter trips by vehicle, Christie told directors this settlement pattern will encourage more walking, bicycling and potentially, the introduction of public transit.
The new designation also allows for a firehall, he said.
At the May board meeting, Area F director Larry Morgan noted all the other smaller communities in the North Shuswap were designated secondary settlement areas except for Scotch Creek, which is a primary settlement area.
“The SSA will allow proponents to make application for rezoning and subdivision into strata or fee simple lots, and will allow for the elimination of undivided interests,” Morgan said.
In response to public concern about a proliferation of development in Lee Creek, both Morgan and Christie were adamant that any new development proposal will have to go through the regional district’s development process and will have to stand on its own merits.
As well, Christie noted there are stringent protection mechanisms in place for any development near the lake, including the riparian area regulations.