Letters to the Editor. (Black Press file photo)

Letters to the Editor. (Black Press file photo)

Letter to the Editor: Petition on Proposed RDCK Bylaw Amendments

“If these proposed bylaw amendments are implemented, the Trails Society may be forced to close Riverside Wilderness Park to public access.”

As Secretary of Trails for Creston Valley Society, I would like to make your readership aware of the following urgent and important information. The Regional District of Central Kootenay’s (RDCK) Planning Department is proposing amendments to the Zoning Bylaw and Land Use Bylaws in our Electoral Areas B and C (and others). There is a public announcement in the May 6th issue of the Creston Valley Advance on Page A5, for Waiving of Public Hearing. Only written submissions for or against the proposed amendments will be accepted by the RDCK.

This issue is important because the RDCK Planning Department in Nelson does not approve of Riverside Wilderness Park, which is located along Goat River near Highway 21 and is privately owned by the Trails Society. If these proposed bylaw amendments are implemented, the Trails Society may be forced to close Riverside Wilderness Park to public access. This would be yet another example of our community losing legal access to our valley’s waterways. Currently, there are zero regional parks in the Creston Valley.

There has been no legal access to Goat River in our valley for many years, other than for those who are willing to scramble down to the water’s edge near highway bridges. Over 10 years ago, changes were made to the RDCK bylaw structure in our area which eliminated the budget for regional parks (to save taxpayers money, presumably). But now that it’s 2021, things have changed, and the Creston Valley now has a budget for regional parks. The recent Parks and Recreation Master Plan from the RDCK describes the very high value that our valley’s residents place on parks, trails, and water access.

The Trails Society decided in 2018 to take long-overdue action to provide our community with legal access to Goat River. The riverside property which was purchased now includes a portable toilet, garbage can, picnic tables and lawn maintenance. This was all made possible due to the overwhelming financial support of local families, businesses, and individuals who donated $237,000 to purchase the land parcel located at 1031 Highway 21.

It was the Trails Society’s intention to gift the land to the RDCK to be turned into a regional park. When the RDCK recently decided against accepting the property for this purpose, we were able to continue to allow the public to access our land through a provincial designation as a Wilderness Park. The Town of Creston supports our park, but because it is outside of Town boundaries unfortunately they have no jurisdiction in the matter.

The Trails Society is supportive of working with RDCK to develop a regional park at an alternate location, as long as it: (1) provides easy access to Goat River for everyone (including the elderly, small children, and others with mobility challenges), and (2) reduces the unsafe parking congestion on Highway 21. We recognize that the establishment of a new regional park will likely require many years of grinding through the official development process. Until that future day, the Trails Society wants to keep our privately-owned park open to the public.

If you disapprove of these proposed bylaw amendments, please indicate by email to the RDCK Planning Department in Nelson that you do not approve of the change in wording to 15.0 “Interpretation of PARK”, which will allow RDCK to arbitrarily sanction (or not) any park that is not owned by the government. Also, that you do not approve of the change in wording to 16.53 “General Regulations: Uses Permitted in all Zones” — as playgrounds and trails should continue to be permitted uses.

For more detailed information as well as a petition template to use, please visit www.crestonvalleytrails.ca. Written submissions must be emailed to plandept@rdck.bc.ca before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19. Thank you for making your voice heard.

Sincerely,

Adam Mjolsness, Erickson

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