Council adopts Official Community Plan despite several complaints

City council passed the city’s new community plan Tuesday night despite several objections from stakeholders and the community

City council passed the city’s new community plan Tuesday night despite several objections from stakeholders and the community.

The Strathcona Regional District, a First Nation council, and Quinsam Heights residents are among the groups that have criticized the Sustainable Official Community Plan.

“Campbell River’s ‘sustainability’ plan is not sustainable,” said Jim Abram, regional district director for Area C (Quadra).

“In its current form the plan is unacceptable. The plan proposes to locate high-density sub-divisions in Menzies Bay and in Jubilee Heights. These are unsustainable because of the extensive distances from Campbell River’s centre…this plan would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions.”

Brian Kelly, administrator of the We Wai Kai/Cape Mudge Band Council also took exception to the plan.

“The document seems to provide a great deal of protectionism for the downtown core of the city to the detriment of other areas including First Nations lands,” Kelly said.

The provincial Agricultural Land Commission also expressed concerns.

“As the plan appears to include provisions that run the risk of inconsistency with the Agricultural Land Commission Act, it is important that changes be made to the plan,” said Roger Cheetham, regional planner with the land commission.

But despite the dissatisfaction, council went ahead and adopted the Sustainable Official Community Plan this week. Council had to adopt the plan by Feb. 28 if it wanted to recover $160,000 the city spent on creating the plan.

Coun. Andy Adams said he struggled with the decision because he understood Quinsam Heights residents’ concern with a recommended change in zoning of their properties.

“I like to put it in the context of ‘how would I feel if I was a property owner and for some reason I missed the public open houses or didn’t realize it would affect me’ – I would want to be consulted,” Adams said. “This is a real concern for a lot of people, I really struggle with this. I’m torn on a philosophical basis but I appreciate the financial situation we’re in.”

Mayor Walter Jakeway admitted he had heard from people concerned with the plan but hadn’t said anything because of the time crunch. Council first received a draft of the 384-page plan on Jan. 10, then had to rush the plan through first and second reading and then a public hearing on Feb. 8.

“I’ve held back,” Jakeway said. “I’ve had complaints but I’ve held back because of time constraints and I know it’s a living document so we can always go back and change it.”

Before adopting the plan, council did make some minor amendments, mostly with wording.

Council took out wording in the plan that weakened protection of ocean views from residential homes on the ridge above the Island Highway.

“We have a bylaw and it was painful to get to and I think for the most part it satisfies the concerns of people on the ridge and the people behind it,” Adams said.

Coun. Mary Storry agreed and wanted to retain the bylaw as is.

“It was a long process with a lot of public input and it’s a very complicated measurement and I don’t want it to be re-written so that it can be misconstrued again,” she said.

The Sustainable Official Community Plan sets the vision for the community for the next 50 years and includes sustainable principles as well as the Master Transportation Plan, the Agricultural Plan, and the city’s Energy and Emissions Plan.