Coldstream debates growth strategy

Some Coldstream politicians want assurances the community won’t be forced into development.

Some Coldstream politicians want assurances the community won’t be forced into development.

Council approved the Regional District of North Okanagan’s regional growth strategy Monday after lengthy debate.

“It’s a fantasy plan and it will not come to fruition,” said Coun. Bill Firman.

The strategy provides a long-term vision for development and growth in the North Okanagan over the next 20 years.

Among the issues identified in the document are rural lifestyles, agriculture, economic development, transportation, housing and energy.

Firman was upset that a map in the regional growth strategy identifies a portion of Buchanan Road as a future development area.

“This whole document is filled with platitudes about urban containment but here’s an example of how it offends these principles,” he said.

“There’s no infrastructure out there, it’s a sensitive area and it’s next to the agricultural reserve.”

However, Firman was told that the only reason the regional growth strategy includes the Buchanan Road site is because that area has been identified for growth by the District of Coldstream.

“It’s in the strategy because it’s presently in our official community plan,” said Coun. Doug Dirk.

That explanation, though, didn’t go over well with Coun. Maria Besso, who says growth areas in official community plans require more scrutiny.

“We’ve said urban containment and no more world’s longest subdivisions,” she said.

“Huge swaths of land are identified near Lumby and Spallumcheen.”

Dirk continued to defend the growth strategy process.

“The strategy is a motherhood statement,” he said.

“It doesn’t transfer responsibility of all of these issues from us (municipalities). RDNO is not taking over these things.”

That view was supported by Coun. Gyula Kiss.

“Developers must still come to us and it’s up to us (as a council) to decide what must be done for the development,” he said.