After more than two years of planning and community consultation, the public will have its last opportunity to comment on the Jaffray Area Official Community Plan and South Country Zoning Bylaw at a public hearing next week.
“A public hearing is different than a public meeting. It is a legislative requirement and is intended to obtain public comment as part of the formal bylaw process,” explains RDEK Chair Rob Gay. “It is important for people to read the plan and participate in the public hearing. This is not a question and answer session or a time to debate the merits of the plan. It is an opportunity for the public to state on the record their reason for supporting or opposing the proposed bylaw.”
This planning process itself dates back to September 2015 and has involved extensive community consultation and information. “Recently there have been some suggestions that this process hasn’t been transparent and that RDEK staff and the Area Director have worked independently. This is simply not the case,” states Gay. “This process has involved a public advisory group of dedicated volunteers, there have been multiple meetings and open houses, an additional comment period following the boundary adjustment, and multiple direct newsletter mail outs to every property owner in the affected area. In addition, there have been 15 different stakeholder meetings. To insinuate that this process has been anything but open and transparent is both unfair and inaccurate.”
Having said that, Gay says the Board recognizes that there are people on both sides of the issue: those who support the plan and those who oppose it. “I want to stress that we are there to listen. That is the entire purpose of the hearing: to listen and to gather the community’s comments. I am hopeful that we have a good turnout and look forward to respectful dialogue.”
The public hearing will be held November 22nd at 7:00 PM at the Jaffray Community Hall.
For those unable to attend the public hearing, written submissions can be mailed, faxed or emailed and must be received prior to the close of the public hearing. The public hearing notices are available at www.rdek.bc.ca or through the RDEK office.