Area D residents gathered to give input on the changes to the area’s Official Community Plan (OCP) on Monday, the first time the plan has been reviewed and changed since its adoption almost two decades ago.
The public hearing, hosted by Area D director Roly Russell, is a legal part of the process for the adoption of the community plan bylaw number 1555, which requires public input on the bylaw.
“This is your opportunity to ask questions and have conversations,” Russell said to the assembled Area D residents, fewer than two dozen in attendance.
Feedback from the public hearing will be taken and presented to the board, and there is the potential for changes. The bylaw has passed first and second reading, and will be up for third reading and adoption at the Oct. 27 RDKB meeting in Grand Forks.
According to a summary document provided to attendees, one of the main themes= during public consultation was the need to protect drinking water. That has been reflected in the OCP with a “Drinking Water Resource” land use designation, and a policy to support the implementation of the Kettle River Watershed Management Plan. Russell said that for the first time, the plan also includes direction on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The current plan was adopted in 1999, and the revised plan has been in the works for three years. It is based on responses from a survey that was sent out to Area D residents.
“This sets the guiding structure for all decisions that take place at the regional district,” Russell said.
Several residents expressed concern about the annual allowable cut, cattle in the water sources, and the struggle for water protection in Area D.
“I’m very happy to see the regional district start to move to become more environmentally sensitive,” said resident Barry Brandow. However, he also noted issues with having cattle in the rivers and with access to lakes, as did resident Donald Pharand.
Deb Billwiller sat on the steering committee that provided input into the community plan. She said the plan is a “progressive” move for the community that will help it move forward, especially with environmental sensitivity.
“This document on the whole is exciting and has many innovative pieces,” Russell said. “This is the umbrella for everything else.”