Rossland council denies Happy Valley rezoning

Council voted in favour of a staff recommendation to not advance the application of a Happy Valley property to amend the zoning bylaw.

Council voted in favour of a staff recommendation to not advance the application of Brenda Trenholme to amend the OCP and zoning bylaw to permit a  subdivision on her property at 2302 Happy Valley.

The amendment is necessary as currently Trenholme lacks the 10 acre minimum stated in the Official Community Plan to subdivide in that location.

After much discussion, council voted in favour of not allowing the amendment to go ahead, though it was split.

Trenholme  spoke during public input period  saying that she does feel that it’s important to preserve agricultural land, but gave reasons for an exemption.

“There  is a reason that this land isn’t in the agricultural land reserve, and that’s because it’s steep, it’s rocky , it’s boggy and it’s not meant for large farms,” Trenholme said. “If you look around, most people that have farms have small plots and make good use of them locally.”

She said for small scale gardening it works, but it’s not suitable for large scale gardening.

“It is private land and I think most of the people who can afford the few large plots of land in Happy Valley aren’t farmers, none of us are farmers,” she said. “I think that to suggest that private land be preserved for farming and force people to farm it, I’m not sure, there seems to be a disconnect there for me.”

Trenholme said that all those she spoke to in Happy Vally had approved her proposal, adding that she would have time to farm it if it were split in two.

Coun. Kathy Moore: said this was not an easy case.

“I understand and sympathize with the applicants wish to subdivide, but really I feel compelled to support the staff recommendation, Rossland’s OCP and zoning has been consistent for years,” Moore said.  “Happy Valley has been sort of set as the place that we weren’t going to subdivide any farther than it’s already been. The point was to preserve lands for agricultural preserve, for green belt, preserve for all the reasons that we talked about.”

Moore said there has been a lot consultation, both from the OCP, in 2008, and the zoning bylaw, which was passed in 2011. Plus she noted a climate adaptation report that identified that area.

“The OCP is our guiding document, we need to follow it as much as we can, unless there is a compelling reason not to, and I couldn’t see it.,” he said.

Coun. Kathy Wallace worried about the management of sanitary services in Happy Valley. City staff pointed out that there are no pipes coming out of the lower end and they would have to cross under the highway to reach the interceptor. Staff said  they would have to discuss seriously how they would handle sewage in that area.

Coun. Cary Fisher spoke against the staff recommendation and against Wallace’s concerns.

“All developers are required to put in sewer as required and all other services, so you could easily approve the application and say, “you’re responsible to put in sewer lines,”” he said. “I understand the need to think about feeding ourselves as a community, but in terms of the reality of it, I don’t see that that parcel land, specifically all of Happy Valley, would ever feed Rossland in any kind of a significant way.”

Fisher went farther saying he doesn’t see Rossland as a rural town with five  acre parcels and small farms, but as a small city.

“Looking into infills in these areas may be required and I don’t really buy the OCP,” he said. “I think the OCP is flawed in this area. “

Coun. Jill Spearn said she went to a public meeting Trenholme  had on the issue, noting it was not well attended.

“I’m of two minds. I concur with a lot that Coun. Moore said, and I concur a lot with what Coun. Fisher said,” Spearn said. “Are we a little city, yes we are. We’re a tourism based city now and as much as I support the OCP and food sustainability in our community…I’m torn on this.”

Coun. Jody Blomme: said she supported the reasons not to let the application go forward, but also could see why the residents in that area would be frustrated.

Wallace noted that in a situation  like this it has to be in the best interest of the community. She noted that Trenholme does have options and was not facing an insurmountable hardship that would warrant the amendment.


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