External agencies trash Campbell River community plan

Sustainability questioned, First Nations consultation ‘lacking’

Several outside agencies are rejecting the city’s new community plan.

The Regional District, a First Nation council, the Ministry of Forests and the Agricultural Land Commission are among the latest groups to voice concerns over the Sustainable Official Community Plan.

The plan, which is designed to shape the community’s future, needs to be adopted by council by Feb. 28, if the city wants to be reimbursed $160,000 it spent on creating the plan.

But the city only forwarded the plan to external organizations in early January. The short timeline had most groups feeling the pinch.

“This is clearly an unacceptable and unreasonable timeline for us to meet and respectfully request additional time to give due consideration to this document,” said Jim Abram, regional director for Area C, on behalf of the Electoral Area Services Committee. “I speak for all of the Electoral Area Directors when we say we need more time to fully understand the draft Campbell River Sustainable Official Community Plan.

“In its current form the plan is unacceptable.”

Abram criticized the plan for limiting the provision of water services to Electoral Area D for fire suppression, and said the plan is not what it claims to be.

“Campbell River’s ‘sustainability’ plan is not sustainable,” Abram said. “The plan proposes to locate high-density sub-divisions in Menzies Bay and in Jubilee Heights. In our view, these are unsustainable because of the extensive distances from Campbell River’s centre…this plan would actually increase greenhouse gas emissions.”

The We Wai Kai said the document did not fully consult with First Nations, something it claims to be.

“The participation of our Nation in the SOCP process is not to be construed as consultation,” said Brian Kelly, administrator for the We Wai Kai/Cape Mudge Band Council. “The document seems to provide a great deal of protectionism for the downtown core of the city at the detriment to other areas including First Nations lands.”

Kelly said the plan goes into detail regarding consultation but fails to acknowledge what he says is the city’s duty to consult with First Nations.

“First Nations are now leading players in many areas of the community,” Kelly said. “The problem is they are not being recognized as such.”

Agricultural Land Commission staff also expressed concern with the document.

“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 Agricultural Land Commission.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations also found some holes in the plan.

Maggie Henigman said the plan neglected to address a number of things – such as protecting nearby great blue heron colonies and several bald eagle nest trees.

“If, in future, these birds (blue herons) establish nests within Campbell River’s remnant forest stands we would hope you would provide appropriate protection by way of buffers, however this will obviously not be possible if the OCP (Official Community Plan) lacks the supporting language,” Henigman said. “For this document to truly represent a sustainable vision for Campbell River into the future, I suggest you include protection language for other species.”

The Sustainable Official Community Plan will likely go before council again on Feb. 21 at which time council can choose to either adopt the plan or make any changes. If major changes are made, the plan would have to go through a second public hearing and would require two weeks notice. If council wants the $160,000 it will have to adopt a plan that many do not support.