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Bylaw full speed ahead

By Laura Walz - Editor Oct. 11, 2000 Powell River Peak

Powell River Regional District directors reversed their position on the possibility of preparing a zoning bylaw for the last large tract of undeveloped land on Savary Island before the completion of an official community plan (OCP).

The history of this particular reversal goes back to the summer of 1997 when former Texada Island director Bob Hagman, then chairman of the planning committee, told a large group of island property-owners gathered for a public meeting in the Savary Island fire hall that no zoning bylaw would be adopted before the OCP was finalized.

Since then, the situation has changed. The owners of the property, David Syre and Roger Sahlin of Washington State, have submitted an application to the ministry of highways to divide the parcel into four-hectare parcels. The 316-acre parcel is located in the middle of the island and has been recognized by scientists and environmentalists as the best example of dune ecology in Canada.

A sharp division between regional district directors and representatives of the Savary Island Committee (SIC) and the Savary Island Land Trust (SILT) was evident at a board meeting last summer when directors passed a motion saying they had no objection to the subdivision application.

Many of the Savary Island property owners who attended the meeting wanted the directors to oppose the application, paving the way for the entire parcel to be preserved.

However, directors argued the best way to protect the dunes was to negotiate a different layout for the proposed subdivision. In order to accomplish that, a zoning bylaw would have to be adopted.

Planning committee chairman Stan Gisborne said at last week's board meeting the statement not to have a zoning bylaw before the OCP was finalized was made at that time. "Things have changed," he said. "The only way we can have a better layout is to go to a zoning bylaw."

Len Emmonds, Area A director, the area Savary Island falls under, agreed with Gisborne. "We didn't anticipate the OCP would take so long," he said. "We have to do something."

Glen Waring, SIC chairman, said if the regional district is going to prepare a zoning bylaw, it was crucial for SIC to be represented during its development. "I think it is absolutely imperative that the doors of communication remain open," Waring said. "If a bylaw is developed, SIC should be involved in its preparation. Before any bylaw is prepared the committee should be represented because we represent the islanders. We should be involved."