Despite public opposition, the regional district has taken another step to approve a controversial development on Jimsmith Lake.
The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors gave third reading on Friday, November 1 to what is known as the Daprocida development.
The development would see a 25-hectare property on the southern end of the lake subdivided into 11 lots of two hectares (five acres) in size.
But residents of Jimsmith Lake sent letters and attended a public hearing to register their opposition to the development.
“I strongly protest the proposed subdivision at Jimsmith Lake,” wrote one resident, Lynne Wlliams. “In addition to esthetic, safety and environmental concerns, the Daprocida subdivision does not reflect best use of the area for area residents. The area is prime recreational land and is used by many in the Cranbrook area and beyond for dog walking, cross country skiing, hiking, mountain biking, etc. It is an all-season recreation area within biking and walking distance of the city.
“The water is used for swimming and boating and its quality will be affected by more septic fields in the area. The road is used like a sidewalk and increased traffic could affect those walking to the lake.”
“The current proposed development would not only present a further threat to the existing diverse flora, fauna and wildlife in the area, it would add to the long term loss of quality of the lake water and wildlife habitat — something the people in the community strive to protect,” read another letter from Roberta Rodgers.
In all, 30 letters were received about the development, 17 opposed, 12 in favour, and one from the developer’s agent.
This is the second time the developer has come to the RDEK board for approval of the subdivision. In the original proposal, the lots were to be smaller — one hectare in size. Public opposition then forced the developer to withdraw.
Now, Board Chair and Area C Director Rob Gay says the subdivision should go ahead because the developer has made efforts to better suit the community.
“I am in support of this. We asked to go back to five acres and the agent has done that for the developer,” said Gay.
He also referred to covenants that would restrict those who purchase a lot in the development to only building on one acre of the five-acre parcel.
“They are trying to consider the environment in that area,” said Gay.
But the City of Cranbrook opposes the development, pointed out board director and Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski.
“This is a difficult one. Certainly this proposal is an improvement from the last one, going back to two-hectare lots,” he said.
“The challenge is, where do we draw the line in terms of cumulative impact on Jimsmith Lake, which is in pretty good condition currently?
“It is difficult to know. Maybe we should have drawn the line a little earlier, in terms of the previous subdivision (Soaring Hawk). We hate to punish this one because cumulatively there is getting to be too much impact on the lake. But we don’t want to put the lake in a position of recovery rather than trying to keep it as natural as possible,” said Stetski.
In the end the board voted to give third reading to the bylaw amendment, with directors Stetski, Cranbrook Councillor Bob Whetham, Canal Flats Mayor Ute Juras and Sparwood Mayor Lois Halko opposed.
The final decision to adopt the bylaw amendment is likely to be made by the board at its next meeting in December.