Wasa will soon have new rules for planning and development.
The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors gave first and second reading to the new Wasa and area Official Community Plan (OCP) on Friday, Jan. 10.
Planner Michele Bates went over the new plan with the directors on Jan. 9.
Work began on replacing the outdated OCP in November 2012 with an introductory meeting and questionnaire. Visioning workshops were held in February 2013.
A draft plan was presented to residents in August 2013.
Soon after, Bates explained, a business group formed in Wasa that was opposed to the OCP.
“They were concerned the OCP did not support commercial development or residential development within the Wasa area.”
A public information session was held in December to explain the OCP, attended by 115 people.
“Amendments were made to the OCP, and in addition a letter was sent to area residents to clarify when a development permit would be required, to mark residential development available in the Wasa area, and it also highlighted the policies that supported commercial development,” said Bates.
In consultation, residents said they support moderate growth in Wasa, but wish to maintain the rural character in the areas around Wasa.
Locals would like to see a stronger local economy, specifically tourism, and commercial development in the area.
The OCP directs new residential development to Wasa Lake with subdivision supported for lots more than one hectare in size.
“Currently there are between 50 and 60 lots in the Wasa area that could be subdivided without requiring a rezoning application,” said Bates.
“The entire plan area has seen approximately 45 lots developed in the past 10 years.”
The plan encourages commercial development such as restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations and grocery stores, but in existing commercial areas and not along Wasa’s lakefront.
Meanwhile, the OCP reflects residents’ value in open space and trails.
“The OCP does encourage the integration of green spaces with new development, as well as trail connectivity within the development,” said Bates.
Private and Crown land that has been historically used for agriculture is encouraged to maintain these purposes.
The regional district is also establishing development permit areas over 28 per cent of Wasa lake and 72 per cent of Cameron Pond. The area extends 30 metres into the lake and 15 metres upland from the natural boundary.
“During the meetings, the people that came or sent in comments made it very clear that they were concerned about the quality of their drinking water and of the quality of the lake water,” said Area E Director Jane Walter. “I feel that we are covering these concerns within the OCP.”
Visit www.rdek.bc.ca to find out when public hearings on the Wasa OCP will be held in February.