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District reconsiders development guidelines

New guidelines for development along creeks, rivers and lakes have stalled.

The Regional District of North Okanagan board refused Wednesday to adopt changes to the zoning bylaw which would have incorporated riparian area regulations.

“They don’t address serious issues like enforcement and using qualified environmental professionals and what they charge people,” said director Rick Fairbairn.

The main goal of the amendments is to protect fish and wildlife habitat from development, but they also focus on floodplains and setbacks for agricultural  buildings near waterways.

Fairbairn is concerned the rules could be onerous on farmers trying to manage livestock waste.

For director Bob Fleming, there is a concern about what is considered a riparian area and he says he knows of a case where a drainage ditch fell under the rules.

“I’ve seen problems for someone trying to construct a building,” he said.

A public hearing on the proposed changes was held Wednesday, but with the exception of one elected official, no one spoke.

“I’m very disappointed with the public hearing. With the number of complaints (about riparian rules), there was no one here to speak out,” said Fairbairn.

“There wasn’t the input these regulations deserve. It covers many aspects of our communities.”

The regional district has been considering riparian rules since 2006.

“We’ve done as much as we can to give property owners flexibility,” said Rob Smailes, general manager of planning and building.

Regional district staff will try and address the board’s concerns before adoption of the revised zoning bylaw is considered.

 

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