“The purpose of tonight is to look, in particular, at this draft bylaw number 2131,” General Manager of Development Services, Bruce Simard said “…The board asked that another bylaw with the same content as previous bylaw number 1189 be brought back in to replace the regional bylaw that we have in place today, which is called bylaw 1996.”
Simard adds, “We want to make sure we’re absolutely transparent with the public.”
Simard says the changes drafted were created with the help of the PRRD’s lawyer, which were then vented through previous meetings in Dawson Creek on October 23, and again in Chetwynd on October 29.
Many of these changes to the bylaw, like authorizing “the Peace River Regional District to regulate construction, alteration, repair and demolition of buildings and other structures, for the health, safety and protection of persons and property” were put in place to better match the current legislation; while other changes, such as adding the wording that a person may not “place a manufactured home upon a foundation without a permit where the work or construction occurs within the area…” were created to help clarify the specified area in which a building permit is required.
However, Simard says the basis of the change is to reduce the scope in which the district oversees, whereas the current bylaw encompasses all of the PRRD, if approved, the draft bylaw would encompass all of Area C, as well as Area B; running up Montney Road to the boundary just west of Hudson’s Hope.
Meanwhile, when it came time for the public to voice their opinion, many took it as an opportunity to confront allegations of the PRRD wasting the public’s time and money.
“In less than two months, Area C has no place to dump their sewer, and you want to spend money on this when you were given instructions to bring it back as is?” one attendee asked.
“We brought these three meetings back because we took the information and we said ‘here it is; is this going back to the intent?’ [sic],” Chief Administrative Officer, Chris Cvik explained.
The same attendee asked, “Was it presented to the board?”
Cvik responded “It has not been presented to the board.”
“That’s my question; why are we wasting peoples’ time and money when we have an elected board? Why was it not put to them?”
Cvik went on to continue explaining the intention of these meetings – which was frequently presented as an opportunity to gage public input, albeit he was cut off mid-sentence by the same visibly frustrated attendee.
That’s when Director of Electoral Area C, Arthur Handland stepped in to reiterate the desire of the PRRD to “redevelop trust”, which he says was lost after the abrupt changes were made to the building bylaw in 2013.
Other allegations made by the public include devious means in which the PRRD passes bylaws, while another attendee alluded to his desire of a federal and/or provincial investigation into the district and their board.
When confronted by these allegations, Simard said he is taking in all of the public’s opinions and concerns with the intention of bringing them to the board’s attention.
When asked of the next step in the process, Hadland said, “It will go back to the four Electoral Directors and they will make a recommendation to the board, then it will go to the board.”
A deadline in which these changes will be implemented was not made clear; however, if you would like a copy of the draft bylaw, they’re available at Regional District offices in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John.
The PRRD can be contacted at 250 784 3200.