Election, Local Government & Incorporation

All Candidates Meeting

The Chamber plans to host an all candidates meeting on April 20th at the Celista Hall for the upcoming provincial election.  The forum starts at 7:00 PM and is expected to end at 9:00 PM.  So far, we have Greg Kyllo, BC Liberal Party and incumbent MLA and Sylvia Lindgren, BC New Democratic Party confirmed to attend.  As of the date this article was submitted for publication, there are no declared candidates from the Green Party, BC Conservative Party, or as independents.  All candidates will however, be invited to participate.

The format for the meeting will have 4 separate phases.

  1. Opening statements by the candidates – limited to 5 minutes each.
  2. Questions addressed to candidates from the public. These will be submitted in writing to the Chamber in advance by members of the public and addressed to specific candidates.  The questions will be screened by the Chamber to ensure fairness and balance and to limit repetition.
  3. Questions to the candidates from the public in an open mic format – limited to 30 minutes.
  4. Closing statements by the candidates – limited to 5 minutes each.

We look forward to all of the North Shuswap participating in this event.  Please send written questions by email to Info@NorthShuswapBC.com

How do Our Local Government Regulations Compare to Other Jurisdictions?

Last month I wrote about the differences between building in Scotch Creek and the regional district to the west.

I think another good indicator are the respective subdivision bylaws.  Our regional district subdivision bylaw is 170 pages long.  Out neighbour to the west, 51 pages.  The basic difference is our regional district duplicates approval requirements in areas that other government agencies already have approval authority.  Some examples are water supply (Interior Health, Ministry of Environment), Sewage disposal (Interior Health, Ministry of Environment), and water system design (Ministry of Environment Water Utility Branch, Interior Health).

In the case of the North Shuswap, the Official Community Plan Bylaw 830 then adds another layer of duplication.

In addition to subdivision fees charged by the regional district, a development permit application is required at a cost of $350.  There are two areas of direct overlap with the requirements of the provincial approving officer.  These individuals are appointed by an Order in Council and have the ultimate authority to ensure the public interest is protected and all legislation is followed when a subdivision is approved.

The provincial approving officer examines each subdivision application and determines if a natural hazard assessment is required.  The standard language covers landslide potential, snow avalanches, flooding and debris flow potential, and catastrophic life threatening events.  Despite this, a development permit is required under DPA 1 – Flooding and Debris Flow Potential and DPA 2 – Steep Slopes for a subdivision.

One positive change has resulted from this duplication with provincial agencies.  Our local MLA Greg Kyllo has initiated several meetings with senior officials from the provincial ministry of transportation (who are responsible for the provincial approving officers) and development industry professionals from Salmon Arm with the goal of reducing red tape and speeding up subdivision approvals.

The positive change is that Interior Health is no longer asked for their opinions on sewage disposal for new subdivisions.  This came about as a direct result of our local government duplicating Interior Health’s authority with their subdivision bylaw.  At least our regional government is constrained by their own bylaw requirements and can’t offer opinions that go beyond their own legislation like we came to expect from Interior Health.

Scotch Creek Incorporation – Through the Looking Glass (Curiouser and Curiuoser?)

While I am personally a member of the incorporation committee, the Chamber resolved to take a neutral position on the issue but did agree to help with getting out information to the community.  As a result, our web page has been used to post information and all North Shuswap residents are encouraged to view it.

What follows are my personal observations and not necessarily those of the Chamber.  On one hand, we have a group of residents and business owners in Scotch Creek who have donated funds and their time to see if incorporation makes sense.  This was done out of a desire to make Scotch Creek a stronger community, a better place to live, and a better place to do business.  At this stage, it’s anyone’s guess what the outcome of an incorporation study might be.

On the other hand, we have our local government who seem to be taking this as an attack on them and their reaction has been a bit over the top.  To be charitable, the tone used in their communication so far is less than professional or polite.  Disbanding the Advisory Planning Commission because 2 members are part of the incorporation committee deprives the entire North Shuswap of public input into planning decisions.  Frankly, it’s an insult to taxpayers who financially support the operations of our regional government.

And yet, a governance study is underway in the South Shuswap with full support of our local government.  So why would the South Shuswap be supported but not the North Shuswap?  Could it be the fact that some in the community sensed a need and took action without asking for permission?

The North Shuswap has a rich history of community volunteerism and independent action.  Without it, we wouldn’t have the Community Hall or the association that runs it, the Health Centre, the First Responders, the Volunteer Fire Departments, the service organizations, the Adams River Salmon Society, the Friday Nights Live concert series, the Seymour Arm Wharf, our 2 farmer’s markets, or Imai Park to name a few.  Director Morgan has been a great help in supporting the North Shuswap with Grants in Aid for various groups but the key is none of it happens without dedicated volunteers.

That being said, the reaction from local government so far is as puzzling as it is Kafkaesque.  A meeting is planned in March between the incorporation committee and our local government represented by the chief administrative officer and Director Morgan.  One can only hope the relationship doesn’t deteriorate further.

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