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Posted: March 3, 2015

Quiet revisions in OCP are concerning

Letter to the Editor

In 2014 the valley public spent many hours and tax dollars toward development of an updated Official Community Plan (OCP).

The update was supposed to bring the OCP into alignment with the Imagine Invermere 2030 (I.I. 2030) long term plan (another huge effort of public engagement). A final version of the OCP is now before District of Invermere council (and the public) for consideration, but first there will be an open house on March 11, and a public hearing on March 17.

You should be there, and here’s why: While there is some great content, unfortunately, much of this document has been quietly revised by council since the last time we all saw and commented on it. There have been numerous, substantive changes to this critical policy document.

With quick reading, this version appears to be well aligned with the goals and objectives of the I.I. 2030 plan and with public input provided during the public consultation process. However, upon careful reading with the previous version in hand, the new version of the draft OCP proves to be a very different document than the last iteration.

What is most concerning are the omissions that council has made (including deleting two entire policy sections and adding another), many of which undermine the I.I. 2030 plan and entirely ignore or contradict the public input, rather than supporting or strengthening these.

Omitted are strong policy supports for agricultural and rural land retention within and around Invermere (now weaker than in the previous OCP, despite explicitly stated public desire to strengthen these policies); formerly strong policy language about the need to prevent sprawling development either within an expanded boundary or outside of our boundaries; protection of the dragonfly wetland at James Chabot; and formerly strong policy language preventing development around the remaining intact foreshore of Lake Windermere both within and beyond Invermere’s boundaries.

All of this in contradiction to public input. The omissions may be more important than the inclusions because what has been omitted were the policies that would support sustainability by preventing boundary expansion to Grizzly Ridge; filling of the last remaining wetland within in Invermere; and development of marinas and other facilities along now-undeveloped sections of Lake Windermere foreshore, for example.

Invermere’s OCP is not JUST about Invermere – it is also about how this community’s policy will influence and drive the future of the region. I hope that people (and our local media) in the valley, especially everyone who put their energy into the I.I. 2030 plan and the OCP update, will come to the open house on March 11 at the district office and take council to task for disregarding the public’s time, energy, and money.

It’s no wonder voter turnout is low in Invermere.

Meredith Hamstead,

Invermere


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