Salmon Arm  

Sicamous committee sets April date for public hearing on rail trail zoning, but further hearings possible

Public hearing not the end?

Sicamous council members have set a date to hear from the public as they reconsider their decision to deny rail trail zoning, but this hearing won't be the end of the line if council decides to make any amendments to the bylaw.

At the March 13 committee of the whole meeting, Sicamous council and staff discussed a date and location for the public hearing, and reviewed the process which would take place if council members decide they want to make any amendments to the bylaw.

The public hearing is for the reconsideration of zoning amendment bylaw 1044. This bylaw contains the zoning changes necessary to make way for the Sicamous portion of the rail trail, as well as four other proposed zoning changes and some corrections to formatting and language.

The bylaw was originally defeated at a council meeting on Feb. 14. However, at the next council meeting on Feb. 28, Mayor Colleen Anderson used her powers under the Community Charter to call for a reconsideration of the bylaw after a resident brought forward a petition with more than 700 signatures supporting the rail trail.

More public hearings ahead?

Sicamous council members learned if they wanted to change the zoning bylaw at the council meeting after the public hearing takes place, the bylaw amendment would need to return for another public hearing before it can be adopted.

Coun. Siobhan Rich asked staff if there was a way to take the other proposed zoning amendments out of the bylaw.

“My question is, these two other properties have been caught up in 1044 dealing with the rail trail, is there a way to break them out?” Rich asked. “Get these folks moving forward until we feel that we can move the rail trail forward and keep working on that, because these guys are just kind of collateral damage in the middle of this.”

Kelly Bennett, chief administrative officer, explained since a reconsideration of council's decision is taking place, breaking up the bylaw isn’t possible at this time.

“Because this is a reconsideration, we have to bring it forward as was considered previously,” Bennett said. “So at that reconsideration, if any further changes are made, then we can proceed accordingly. But at this point, we can't make changes to what we're reconsidering, it has to be presented the same way.”

Coun. Ian Baillie expressed frustration that any amendments would take more time.

“I've sent around an email saying 'I hope that when this issue comes back to council that there would be pride and unanimous support for it,'” Baillie said. “I don't see that right now, and that's what I'm trying to avoid.

“No one's trying to slow it down or anything, but 1044 under this provision, it's going to come as it is. And if it gets amended, it's going to start another process for public hearing and notification, that's just more time.”

Staff clarified if council decides to make amendments to the bylaw, it would take two weeks for staff to set up another public hearing.

Hearing set for April

Staff recommended holding the public hearing on April 10 at 5 p.m., and offered a few different venue options.

Sarah Kyllo, deputy corporate officer, explained why staff recommended hosting the hearing somewhere else.

“The reason we're recommending that the public hearing and the meeting be held elsewhere is just based on attendance regarding this issue,” Kyllo said. “I think we had over 50 [at] the one meeting, and then over 40. And they kind of represented different opinions in the community.

“If we bring those two together, staff is assuming that there could be a large attendance. So the idea is to provide it in a setting where we can accommodate more people, and there's more seating.”

After further discussion, council agreed it made sense to hold the hearing somewhere with more capacity, but left it up to staff to choose the Seniors Centre or the Red Barn Arts Centre. Council heard both venues have seating for more than 100 people.

A motion to schedule the public hearing on April 10 at 5 p.m. passed unanimously. The meeting will be held at whichever of the two proposed venues staff deems the best fit.

The District of Sicamous will announce the location when they put out a public notice for the hearing.

More Salmon Arm News