A proposal to rezone 457 acres of forest near Fernie was sent back to staff following a recent Regional District of East Kootenay meeting until more information can be gathered from the development company.
According to Handshake Holdings Inc., the proposal would subdivide the land into 75 lots, each with three to five acres.
More: Development company presenting plans to rezone Galloway Lands near Fernie (Jan 5, 2022)
The RDEK directors felt that the proposal needed more vital information before it moved forward in the approval process.
One of the determining factors behind the decision was road access.
“The proposal that we saw would take and use the road that is a one-lane road. In the winter, it becomes very narrow when we have a lot of snow, and on the weekends it gets extremely busy with ski season,” explained Rob Gay, RDEK board chair. “How do emergency vehicles access that road when it’s really busy? That was a big issue for us.”
The board also raised the issue of the lifecycle cost of the development and covenant management.
“While the applicant has presented a detailed plan and offered a number of covenants to provide further reassurance with regard to the development, the Board felt it was premature to move forward to a public hearing without having additional information in several key areas, including road access, wildland and structural fire protection, water and septic, and wildlife corridors,” said Gay.
Concerns have been raised regarding the wildlife habitat that would be occupied with the Galloway Lands development.
Handshake Holdings said the land would be a conservation subdivision, which is intended to retain as much of the parcel as open space as possible.
The RDEK said it would need more information before it moves forward.
“What we saw in the proposal that I think needs some more work, is that about half of the land would be zoned as a park. There are people who are using that land now for cross-country skiing, hiking and for biking, and the developer would like to retain that,” said Gay. “We would like some more comments on the management of those lands and how that would be done and who would do it.”
The proposal has also seen opposition from local groups, including Wildsight and the Fernie Snow Valley Community Association before it was brought forward to the RDEK.
More: Local groups voice opposition to proposed development near Fernie (Jan 10, 2022)
Rather than giving the proposed Bylaws 3102 and 3103 the first two readings and scheduling a public hearing, the plan was sent back to staff to gather more information from the applicant.
“It is clear there is a great deal of interest in this proposal and our job as a board is to keep an open mind and follow the process,” said Gay. “Putting a pause on things now will give the proponent time to address these outstanding issues and provide the clarity we need to make a decision on the application.”
RDEK officials said a timeline for when the proposal will come back is not yet known.