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Area G director shot down in attempt to include all Area F in Secondary Suites BylawPosted: July 10, 2012

The majority of Regional District of East Kootenay Electoral Area F will not be included in an under-construction Secondary Suites Bylaw, despite an attempt by Electoral Area G director Gerry Wilkie to have the regional board revisit the matter July 6.

Gerry Wilkie

“I continue to express my disappointment in this bylaw,” Wilkie said before making a motion for the board to reconsider its stance from a month previous in which it agreed to exclude the areas included in the Fairmont Hot Springs and Windermere Official Community Plans and most of Panorama Mountain Village from the proposed bylaw which will legalize secondary suites in the Columbia Valley’s rural areas.

Area F director Wendy Booth said she did her homework on the topic, talking to five community organizations and about 300 people, before convincing her fellow board members to agree to exclude much of her area from the bylaw (No. 2369).

“I think we had quite a lengthy discussion of this yesterday in the Columbia Valley

Wendy Booth

Directors’ meeting,” Booth said after Wilkie pressed for the inclusion of all Area F. And the Planning Committee also supported her position, Booth added.

“I did my best to get the word out there and this is what I got back,” she said.

“I understand director Booth’s comments. I simply want to voice a concern on behalf of many people who won’t have any opportunity at affordable housing with this bylaw. I am very disappointed,” Wilkie replied. “I don’t think, quite frankly, that all the voices have been heard in the area. I am convinced it happened very quickly and a public hearing would remedy that.”

District of Invermere Mayor and board director Gerry Taft said the legalizing of secondary suites in Invermere has been a benefit to many residents.

“Having secondary suites in the tool box is very important,” he said, suggesting, “There is a fine line sometimes between representing and leading.”

Taft said the legislation should be uniform for the valley.

“It gets very confusing. We think of the valley as a whole,” he said, noting that Area F has a persons-per-residence average of 1.7 and allowing secondary suites might boost that average.

Board chair, Electoral Area C director Rob Gay reminded Wilkie that Area F residents can still have a say in the development of the bylaw by attending and being involved in the public hearing, which will be held July 24 in Edgewater.

“It’s going to public hearing no matter what we do,” he said, defending Booth. “The director of this community knows the community and has spoken to the community. If people in that area want to make an application, that is still available to them. The door isn’t closed on that.”

Electoral Area A director Mike Sosnowski said he is displeased with board members trying to overturn decisions made only a month previously.

“I do believe director Booth has done her consultation. Rehashing the same thing around the board – I am getting a little bit tired of that,” he said.

“The important distinction is virtually all of Area F is excluded,” Wilkie pushed.

When it came time to vote on Wilkie’s suggested amendment to Bylaw No. 2369, only four other directors back him, including Village of Canal Flats Mayor Ute Juras, Taft and City of Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski and councillor Bob Whetham.

The board then passed the first and second reading and authorized the public hearing.

The bylaw will permit secondary suites in single family dwellings and in detached garages across the Columbia Valley except for lands included within the Lake Windermere OCP, Fairmount Hot Springs Area OCP and a portion of Panorama Mountain Village.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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