WA:TER


PROTECTION OF THE SALMON RIVER DELTA & FLOODPLAIN

Protection and restoration of fundamentally critical and sensitive ecosystems require the cooperation of many groups with a wide spectrum of interests. No one person, group or government has sole responsibility for the well-being of our environment. Local land use decisions often have profound effects on the environment, positive or negative. Scientists, experts, and regulators must work with communities to provide and receive information, and ensure compliance with environmental regulations. Municipal, provincial and federal governments must enact and actively support bylaws, regulations and laws to protect ecosystems.

Floodplain development has a long history because of its flat terrain and agriculturally rich soil. Our Salmon River delta and floodplain have seen logging, farming, road and rail building and small scale residential and commercial development. The cummulative impacts of development pressure came to a head in 2006 when plans were announced for large scale commercial development of 60 acres immediately adjacent to the Salmon River mouth.
SC national website post

Photo credit: Ian James

This photo is of the Salmon River delta looking south in June 2008. Salmon Valley can be seen in the distance with a narrow winding strip of remnant trees marking the Salmon River, the Trans Canada Highway at the bottom of the large field, and the CPR track in the left foreground. The Nature Conservancy of Canada are rates this ecosystem as having the highest conservation value and highest vulnerability in the Okanagan Ecoregion.   top  home


REASONS TO PROTECT, ENHANCE AND RESTORE OUR SALMON RIVER DELTA


ONE -   SALMON RIVER AND SHUSWAP LAKE WATER QUALITY IS OF CRITICAL IMPORTANCE.
Parking lots concentrate and discharge chemicals into the environment ...
"Several PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] are suspected human carcinogens and are toxic to aquatic life." "Dissolved zinc was most likely the primary cause of toxicity based on toxicant characterization of selected runoff samples."

TWO -   CHANGING RIVER AND FLOODPLAIN DYNAMICS WILL HAVE SIGNIFICANT DIRECT AND/OR INDIRECT IMPACTS ON FLOODPLAIN FUNCTION, NEIGHBOURING AND UPSTREAM RESIDENTS, AND CITY, PROVINCIAL AND FEDERAL LIABILITY.

THREE -   THIS ECOSYSTEM IS CRITICALLY ENDANGERED AND SPECIES ARE AT RISK.
RED LISTED - "cottonwood - snowberry - rose ecosystem" is largely unprotected by riparian regulations, Western Grebe in their last nesting place in BC, western screech owl, Mexican mosquito fern
BLUE LISTED - western painted turtle, American bittern, great blue heron, Dolly Varden trout
YELLOW LISTED - western toad
COHEN COMMISSION - Fraser River sockeye are under federal investigation
For more information about endangered and at-risk species in British Columbia, please visit the provinicial red and blue lists
FOUR -   SALMON ARM'S OFFICIAL COMMUNITY PLAN (OCP) ENVIRONMENTAL GUIDELINES AND COMMUNITY PRIORITIES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT EXPRESSED IN THE OCP REVIEW SURVEY STRONGLY SUPPORT ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION.

FIVE -   IT SETS THE RIGHT PRECEDENT FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS ON OR NEAR CRITICAL HABITAT AND WATERCOURSES. More than 80% of Canada's species at risk are endangered because of habitat loss. 90% of greater Okanagan wetlands have been drained, filled and otherwise ruined.  


two grebes dancing in water The Western Grebe
On BC Ministry of Environment's red-list (considered extirpated, endangered or threatened), Salmon Arm Bay is BC's only remaining successful Western Grebe nesting site. [ click image for video footage ]   top  home


FLOODPLAIN DEVELOPMENT

2007 development plan #1

CONCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS

There have been several Salmon Arm Shopping Centre (SmartCentres) proposals for large scale development of the Salmon River floodplain. The original plan was for commercial and residential development of 60 acres. Due to heightened environmental scrutiny by community groups and the Ministry of Environment, this has been reduced to just over 16 acres.

The recent history of the subject property includes a salvage operation in a narrow strip along the Trans Canada Highway, and a shop and abbatoir immediately behind. The site of the abbatoir can be seen most clearly in the helicopter photo / QEP report overlay (graphic #5) on the middle left of this webpage - it is the small white area in the middle of the southern (highway) end of the property, within the southernmost red box (at the top in this orientation).

The image to the left (graphic #1) is the first conceptual drawing presented to Salmon Arm City Council in November 2007. It shows 3 phases of development, the first being large format commercial with a run-off containment pond (5 acres later downsized to 3) beside the Salmon River. Although not supported by the city planners at that time, the developer suggested residential development for phase 2.
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2008 development plan#2 SC national website post#3
The photo above left (graphic #2) is the 2008 conceptual drawing, similar to 2007, but skirting an obvious wetland area on the east property boundary. The run-off containment pond was abandoned. The photo on the right (graphic #3) showing more detail was taken from SmartCentres' national website in the fall of 2009.

3rd development plan#4 This image (graphic #4) was taken from Salmon Arm Shopping Centre (SmartCentres) public information brochure. The main differences in this third conceptual proposal, shown from west to east are that:
1. the obvious wetlands along most of the east property boundary are left undeveloped,
2. Hobbs Creek is now acknowledged, and
3. plans for commercial development extend to the banks of the Salmon River on the north and northwest boundaries of the property. (Earlier proposals showed commercial development of the southern approximately 2/3 of the property, with residential or undisclosed plans for the top 1/3.   top  home

SC plan looking north to south#5 SC plan looking north to south#6
The left image above (graphic #5) is the site plan from p. 22 of SmartCentres' QEP report, inverted and superimposed on a June 6, 2008 helicopter photo, shown in north looking south orientation. The long dark area at the north boundary is a large year round pool of standing water which connects to the river and the lake during the regular flooding at spring runoff and associated high lake levels. The long pool also connects during runoff to the maze of flooded channels within the stand of cottonwood trees in the northwest quadrant of the site. Photographs are available abundant beaver activity in the area of this pool. This dual connectivity of the site to the river and the lake is clear in the black and white 1993 federal government air photo on the Delta Science and Regulation page. Note also the three large buildings overlying the very large stand of (endangered status) black cottonwood trees occupying most of the northern part of the site. The potential for damage to the adjacent Salmon River from this development includes deflection of the river's path to the NW into property of the Neskonlith First Nations Band, as well as an ensuing potential for increased flooding to the west of the river both upstream and downstream of the SC site.

The right image above (graphic #6) shows the extent of the QEP p. 22 developed site area (tarmac/buildings) is superimposed above. Note that areas outside the grey zone represent, with a very small exception in the NW of the site, the government required non-developable parts of the site. The non-developable parts of the site stem from RAR (riparian areas regulation) concerning lake high water marks/contours (HWM) and mandatory river/stream setbacks. RAR deals with protection for fish habitat only.   top  home

In October 2008, at the end of 5 unprecedented nights of public hearing, Salmon Arm City Council narrowly rejected 3rd reading of this proposal.* The developer regrouped and presented the conceptual plan shown below in 2010. City Council passed 3rd reading for this proposal in July.**
* Mayor Bootsma, Councillors Cannon and Flynn in favour, Councillors Eliason, Idzan and Harrison opposed, and Councillor Kentel absent due to conflict of interest     ** Mayor Bootsma and Councillors Cannon, Eliason, Flynn and Harrison in favour, Councillors Idzan and Jamieson opposed
4th development plan#7 This significantly scaled back version (graphic #7) would occupy approximately 22 acres of the southern end of the property historically zoned highway tourist commmercial, the area filled by the developer on Labour Day weekend 2009, and east to Hobbs Creek. The faint dotted line was the Official Community Plan (OCP) urban containment boundary. The red line along the north end of the development is the new Council-approved OCP amendment of the urban containment boundary. Although much improved over previous proposals, serious concerns remain about environmental and First Nations impacts, as well as traffic and flood repercussions and mitigation.

For a tour of the Salmon River delta and development issues as of June 2010, visit  Google Earth  and the linked June 2010 WA:TER video. See also DELTA (science and regulations page) for CPR and Terratech Consulting letters urging flood risk assessment.

Salmon Arm City Council passed 4th reading Dec. 20, 2010.* Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure approvals have since been issued. The developer hoped to have a City of Salmon Arm development permit in place for a February start date.
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* Mayor Bootsma and Councillors Cannon, Eliason, Flynn and Harrison voting in favour, Councillor Jamieson voting against, and Councillor Idzan absent.


SUMMARY OF SA OBSERVER COVERAGE


SmartCentres construction in limbo

By Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer Published: June 05, 2012 5:00 PM Updated: June 06, 2012 12:13 PM
The City of Salmon Arm is not delaying the SmartCentres development.

Mayor Nancy Cooper issued a statement summing this up last week on behalf of city council so the community gets correct information, not rumours.

"I was hearing from people that they were saying they didn't understand why the city was holding up SmartCentres. There have been a lot of rumours out there, people are concerned, and I don't blame them," she told the Observer.

She said city councillors were experiencing the same complaints.

"They (councillors) wanted us to put it out there. Except for a few small things..., the city has pretty well signed off on everything."

The mayor's statement, which has been posted on the city's website, lists city approvals, which include an official community plan amendment and a zoning amendment that both received final approval on Dec. 20, 2010, and two development permit applications that received approval from council on Oct. 24, 2011.

The website statement points out that the issuance of one development permit by city staff is contingent on SmartCentres fulfilling conditions which include approval from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Sandra Kaiser, vice-president of corporate affairs, told the Observer in an email that SmartCentres expects "to receive MOTI approval in the next few months."

She added that the company is close to finalizing the last details with the ministry.

A spokesperson for MOTI states in an email regarding the lengthy process: "We have completed a review of the preliminary plans and expect SmartCentres will submit the final detailed plans shortly."

Asked about MOTI approval, Carl Bannister, the city's chief administrative officer, said the ministry can provide the best information.

"As far as I know, there aren't any big changes - paving, line marking, signage, electrical. I believe that's what it is, as well as amounts of security that are required. As far as I know, there aren't any big-picture things that are at play here."

Court appeal

The city's website statement also refers to the Neskonlith band appeal of the BC Supreme Court ruling regarding the hazardous areas development permit for Salmon Arm Shopping Centres approved by the city. The Court of Appeal hearing for the case is set for Aug. 14 and 15 in Vancouver.

The appeal is taking on provincial importance, as the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) has notified the city it will be taking on intervener status, a status that will allow it to make a limited amount of argument in the court.

"I'm not sure what that participation is going to look like," said Cooper, "but the reason they are is they believe the judgment will have an effect on other municipalities, other local governments."

Cooper said the UBCM is giving the city $10,000 to go towards the city's legal fees.

Mark Underhill, one of the lawyers representing the Neskonlith band, said he understands that at least one other First Nation is likely to be applying in support of the Neskonlith's position, and there may be other parties seeking to be interveners given the case's important implications.

SmartCentres responds

Meanwhile, an email statement sent to the Observer May 31 from SmartCentres refers to the appeal.

"Despite the strong support from the City of Salmon Arm Council, the community, and a positive judicial decision by the BC Supreme Court, the appeal of the court's decision by the Neskonlith Indian Band is causing some uncertainty as to when we will be able to commence construction," writes Kaiser. "We understand that many residents continue to express their frustration to city council, as they eagerly look forward to having more shopping choices in Salmon Arm. However, we trust the residents of Salmon Arm will appreciate the difficulty the Neskonlith's appeal poses with respect to our ability to readily mobilize our construction start.

"In the meantime, we will continue to finalize our approvals with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and city staff. We remain very committed to the Salmon Arm community and look forward to breaking ground as soon as possible."

Asked about a rumour that construction might not start at all this year, Kaiser replied: "No definitive decision has been made with regard to the timing of construction. In light of the appeal of the court decision by the Neskonlith Indian Band, the timing of construction is a matter of continued consideration."   top  home

Judge rules in favour of city, SmartCentres

by Tracy Hughes - Salmon Arm Observer April 04, 2012
A BC Supreme Court judge ruled against the Neskonlith Indian Band's petition regarding the City of Salmon Arm's handling of the SmartCentres development permit process. Justice Peter Leask dismissed the band's claim in his decision which was handed down today, April 4.

In the decision, which resulted from three days of hearings beginning March 19, Leask noted the principle issue in the dispute rested on whether the city had an legal or constitutional obligation to consult with the band before issuing the environmentally hazardous area development permit for the SmartCentres site. The permit was approved by city council and was officially issued on Oct. 25. 2011.

The Band initiated the lawsuit saying they are concerned that the SmartCentres property will flood, and that flood-control measures will be necessary. These flood control measures, they argue, will do damage to the environment and to the interests of the Neskonlith people.

In its legal arguments, the Neskonlith Band claimed that they city had a constitutional obligation to consult with it before making decisions that could adversely affect its aboriginal rights or title. The Neskonlith Band's land lies directly adjoining the SmartCentres property to the west.

Both the city and SmartCentres denied this was the case.

One of the main arguments made by the city is that B.C. law states that once an applicant has complied with the guidelines under an official community plan, a municipal council has no discretion to withhold the development permit. As well, they argued, existing case law from the Supreme Court of Canada and British Columbia courts makes it clear that a local government cannot stand in the shoes of the Crown for the purposes of a duty to consult and accommodate a First Nation.

In his judgment, Leask rejected the Neskonlith's legal arguments.

"In this case, as even the Band agreed, there is no express or implied statutory language in the Local Government Act requiring or empowering the City to engage in... consultation or in any consultation beyond that required by s. 879," Leask writes in his decision.

"I reject the argument of the Band that the duty to consult vests automatically with whoever is empowered to make decisions affecting aboriginal rights... I find that the City of Salmon Arm had no such duty. As a result, I dismiss the Band's petition. In the circumstances, there is no need to consider the other arguments put before the Court."

Leask's ruling was issued in time to accommodate the SmartCentres proposed construction schedule which is set to begin later this month.

The Observer will have more information and reactions to the judgement as they become available.   top  home

Neskonlith band intends to sue Salmon Arm over SmartCentres

by Tracy Hughes - Salmon Arm Observer July 20, 2011
The Neskonlith Indian Band announced Wednesday they are initiating a legal challenge against the City of Salmon Arm's issuance of a hazardous area development permit for the SmartCentres Shopping Centre.

In a press release, the band says despite repeated requests to establish a proper consultation process regarding their concerns about the proposed development, none was undertaken.

"The City of Salmon Arm refuses to acknowledge the constitutional obligations which passed to them when the province delegated the responsiblity for flooding risk assessment and we now unfortunately have to look to the courts to ensure that the city lives up to those obligations. We have therefore instructed our legal counsel to prepare the documents to file a challenge..." says Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson.

"As Secwepemc people, we hold aboriginal title and rights over our territory, which includes the Salmon River delta and floodplain. This critically important decision regarding our territory, which we are told by independent experts could have a tremendously negative impact on an area of extraordinary value to our people, was taken without any meaningful consultation with us. We will not sit idly by and allow this to occur," she adds.

When contacted by the Observer late Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Marty Bootsma said he was unaware of the band's statement, but said he was not surprised the band would challenge the city in court.

"That kind of talk, it's always been out there. We'll just have to wait and see where it goes from here."

In the wake of reports by Stantec, an engineering firm hired by SmartCentres to report on flood risks for the proposed shopping centre site, the band retained their own expert who disagreed with Stantec's view that there would be no measurable increase in the current flood hazard risk to adjacent properties from the development. The Neskonlith lands are directly beside the SmartCentres site, which are all part of the Salmon River delta area.

The band retained Michael Church, an engineer and professor who specializes in natural stream channel design, and Nancy Turner, a professor and ethnobotanist, who were of the opinion that further studies were needed to understand the potential impacts to the reserve lands.

"Professor Church is of the view that the development will flood in the near future and there is a pressing need to study the potential impacts of resulting flood mitigation measures. We can not allow such careless planning about an area of such importance to go unchallenged," said Wilson.

There is no indication as to when the band's lawyers intend to officially file suit.   top  home

Centre gets city approval

By Lachlan Labere - Salmon Arm Observer July 13, 2011
An outpouring from academia failed to keep Salmon Arm council from approving a development permit relating to flood risk on the proposed SmartCentres property.

Council's decision came Monday evening following two back-to-back public hearings that lasted four-and-a-half hours. The first hearing related to a development permit application that determines the form and character of the shopping centre development at the west end of town. The second hearing was for a Hazardous Areas Development Permit, which determines whether the site can safely be used for the intended purpose.

Council unanimously approved the first permit. The second, however, saw Couns. Ivan Idzan and Ken Jamieson opposed, and Couns. Alan Harrison, Kevin Flynn and Debbie Cannon, and Mayor Marty Bootsma, in favour.

City staff supported both permit applications and related variances, with conditions tied to each. These included a recent condition tied to the second permit, relating to new flooding information that could impact the northwest part of the property.

"Over the last couple of weeks, the Ministry (of Environment) has received some additional information in the form of a formal complaint... and at this point in time, they are currently reviewing a portion of the property," said city development services director Corey Paiement. "As part of that, the hope was that the ministry could make a determination prior to the hearing, but what they have determined was the applicant and their consultants will have to do some additional work to see if the Riparian Areas Regulation applies to that portion of the property, and if that portion of the property is an active flood plain or streamside protection enhancement area."

The condition requires the applicant to do any additional work determined necessary by the ministry.

SmartCentres site manager, Nathan Hildebrand, said he's met with the ministry to discuss the matter.

"We are committed to go out and undertake further investigation," said Hildebrand. "That may result in changes, that may not... If there are changes that need to be made and we aren't able to construct, essentially the extension of 30th Street, our site plan can function without 30th Street."

The majority of the evening meeting was in the public's hands to voice their opinions on the two permit applications. While SmartCentres' had its supporters in the audience, the podium belonged to those concerned or critical of the development.

First to speak for both hearings was Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson and Switzmalph Cultural Society president Bonnie Thomas. Wilson emphasized that, to date, the city has yet to engage in proper consultation with the band, and instead has communicated through letters, largely legal in nature. Thomas implored council to consider the rare species of plants and animals that currently reside on the subject property. Wilson and Thomas referenced two professional studies of the SmartCentres property that "confirm the significant importance of the ethnobotany of the Salmon River Delta," and call for further study of the land.

Throughout both hearings, flooding data provided by SmartCentres' contracted consulting engineer, Stantec, was challenged by professionals in the audience, including soils and vegetation specialist Alex Inselberg and professional engineer Calvin VanBuskirk, who suggested the city could avoid future flooding challenges with the creation of a channel that would run under the Trans-Canada Highway and along that northwest portion of the SmartCentres property.

"We can run it through here, an open channel, and right back into the river and essentially have a massive reduction in flood hazard risk in Salmon Arm," said VanBuskirk, maintaining the channel would safeguard the town at a very nominal cost compared to cleaning up after a flood.

Along with the advice, council and the applicant received significant criticism. Diane Ambil expressed her disappointment with council not having consulted with the Neskonlith. Others, like Warren Bell, argued a flood plain risk analysis needs to be done before a spade is put in the ground.

With the quality and quantity of conflicting technical information, Coun. Ivan Idzan said he would not support the permit application. Jamieson commended SmartCentres for their tenacity in working to make the project happen, but said what they are trying to do on the site is not what he wants to see happen.

Coun. Alan Harrison said he respected all the opinions provided but, in the end, his vote to support the permit was based on what he has seen at the site over the 40 or 50 visits he's made, along with the recent fly-over he and council made. Harrison said the development proposal represents compromise, with 48 of the 67-acre lot being preserved in its natural state. He described the 19 acres to be developed as "harsh land," with a consistency "like concrete."

Cannon agreed that city council and the Neskonlith band need to come to the table and discuss what a proper consultation looks like. However, she said she sees no problem with development proceeding on the SmartCentres property.

Hildebrand said construction could begin as soon as August, with completion expected in November 2012.   top  home

Process ends but debate will linger

By Editorial - Salmon Arm Observer Published: July 12, 2011 6:00 PM
It's all over but the lawsuits.

With council's approval of the development and hazardous area permits after a marathon four-and-a-half hour hearing on Monday, the stage is set for the controversial SmartCentres development to proceed with construction.

Mind you, the developer still needs the Ministry of Transportation approval of their road right-of-way. They also need Ministry of Environment to sign off on setbacks from watercourses for a proposed extension of 30th Street. These items don't appear to be a significant hurdle, however, as the company's target for construction is August. After all the debate surrounding the development, we are sure the developer is anxious to break ground before any other impediments crop up.

The most likely appears to be the potential for a legal challenge from the Neskonlith Indian Band, who have commissioned their own expert to challenge the findings of SmartCentres' consultant on the potential for flooding of the area. The band's property is immediately adjacent to the SmartCentres land. This course of action may also depend on how deep the pockets of the band will extend. We all know SmartCentres has the cash and clout to defend themselves in court - remember they are still doing that to prevent the release of government documents regarding the placement of fill on their property.

But court challenges are protracted processes, which likely won't be resolved until years after cash registers are ringing at the shopping centre.

For good or ill, the decision is now made and this community will live with the results.   top  home

SmartCentres fights information release

By Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer Published: June 28, 2011
Salmon Arm Shopping Centres Ltd. has taken to the courts to prevent information in the possession of Fisheries and Oceans Canada from being made public.

Salmon Arm Shopping Centres Limited, Inc. is one of the owners of property at the site of SmartCentres' proposed shopping centre at the west end of town and is one of a group of affiliated entities operating under the trade name SmartCentres.

Part of the reason stated in court documents for fighting the release is that such information, "would prejudice the applicant's competitive position for a municipal land use rezoning process concerning the property."

In August 2010, Warren Bell, president of the Wa:ter (Wetland Alliance: The Ecological Response) group, submitted an Access to Information request for information from 1997 to 2009 related to the depositing of fill, of any kind, on properties at the site of the proposed development.

Bell told the Observer that fill had been placed on what was once an oxbow of the Salmon River, and so he and his group were curious what discussions took place with Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to and following the fill placement.

"A lot of interaction was likely to have taken place between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the developer."

He said the group is convinced the development slips through the cracks between the jurisdiction of the federal Fisheries Act and the provincial Riparian Areas Regulation, leaving the delta inadequately protected.

The way the process works, says a spokesperson with the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada, is if a request for information involves a third party, then the government department involved consults with them. They're informed about the information to be revealed and asked if they're okay with releasing it. In this case, Salmon Arm Shopping Centres wasn't.

Salmon Arm Shopping Centres' application filed with the Federal Court trial division states that it received a letter on Dec. 2, 2010 from Fisheries and Oceans Canada saying the department was intending to release the files requested. Salmon Arm Shopping Centres consented to the release of some of the documents, but stated that the balance of them should not be disclosed because they do not relate to the request and they would negatively affect the company's rezoning process.

The application also states that in March 2011, Salmon Arm Shopping Centres received a letter from Fisheries and Oceans saying the department had decided to go ahead and disclose all the documentation in response to the request made under the Access to Information Act.

Salmon Arm Shopping Centres' document states that the records the department wishes to disclose:

  • "do not accurately respond to the request;
  • contain financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information supplied by the applicant to the department and is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the applicant;
  • contain information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to result in material financial loss to the applicant;
  • contain information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to prejudice the competitive position of the applicant; and/or
  • contain information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with contractual or other negotiations of the applicant."

  • It continues: "The applicant has a reasonable expectation of probable harm to its interests if the records are disclosed by the department."

    The court process continues, with various affidavits, letters, orders and motions having been filed since March. The court file contains no reply from the 'respondent' - the Attorney General of Canada, as often happens, because the application is going to continue as what's termed a specially managed proceeding.

    A spokesperson with the office of the Chief Justice of the Federal Court said it would have been the applicant, Salmon Arm Shopping Centres, who identified the Attorney General as the respondent in this case instead of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. The respondent could be changed later at the request of the parties.

    It could be early next year before the case goes to trial.

    SmartCentres' land development manager, Nathan Hildebrand, said his company declines comment at this time because the case is before the courts.   top  home

    SmartCentres applies for development permit

    By Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer March 16, 2011
    SmartCentres has submitted its development permit application to the city, but it will be some time before the public will see it. Corey Paiement, the city's director of development services, told the Observer Thursday the city just received SmartCentres "form and character development permit application. All development applications are made public as part of the city staff report that goes to council. The application was received last week and it will be some time before the application and city staff report proceed to council."

    Asked if it could be as long as a month or two before staff complete their review and the development permit is placed on the council agenda, Paiement said that's possible. "It's difficult to anticipate when it would go forward to council at this stage."

    In response to whether flood hazard and risk will be addressed in the process, he said the application received doesn't include a report on the issue, but SmartCentres will be making application for an 'environmentally hazardous areas' permit. "As part of the application it's expected they would have supporting information or required information."

    Asked what the information would consist of, Paiement said a requirement of making the application is to "provide review and supporting information from a professional engineer." He said the city hasn't received that yet.

    In July, the majority of council approved a rezoning application and official community plan amendment for the property. That application required an amendment to the official community plan from Salmon River Valley Agricultural to Highway Service/Tourist Commercial, as well as an amendment to the Urban Containment Boundary. It also required rezoning from A1, Agricultural Zone; C-3, Service Commercial Zone; and M2, Light Industrial Zone to the new C8, Comprehensive Development Zone. The development permit gives staff and council an opportunity to approve, deny or require modifications to specific plans the company has for buildings on the site.   top  home

    Salmon Arm Observer - 2010 IN REVIEW

    aerial view

    Photo credit: V Morris

    JANUARY

    SmartCentres has a setback in its proposed development as the Ministry of Environment asks them to redo a portion of the Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) report.

    FEBRUARY

    Some Salmon Arm businesspeople bring a request to council at the city's development and planning meeting. Spokesperson Rick Roberts ... tells council, "To make a decision of the magnitude requested by SmartCentres - or any other developer - to amend the existing community plan during the review process indicates that you are ignoring the very process you endorse."

    APRIL

    At a meeting hosted by WA:TER, Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson tells the gathering the band is seeking legal advice to address possible infringements and impacts of the proposed SmartCentres development. "The property was unilaterally removed by Indian Affairs and is therefore subject to a specific claim of our people," says Wilson.

    MAY

    SmartCentres resubmits its application and its development is reduced by 14 acres.

    JULY

    As the hearing for SmartCentres is approaching ... City council receives a letter from Tessmer Law Office representing Neskonlith saying proper procedure has not been followed in contacting the band about official community plan changes. ... The Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union Recreation Centre auditorium is packed as the public hearings begin for SmartCentres' proposal. ... The vote is 5:2 in favour of amendments to allow the SmartCentres plan to go ahead. ... Cannon thanked the Wetland Alliance: The Ecological Response (WA:TER) for their persistence, and for revealing the flawed high-water mark in the developer's original proposal [and] ... says she was wrong to vote in favour of the 2008 proposal.

    DECEMBER

    STAMP OF APPROVAL
    By Lachlan Labere - Salmon Arm Observer
    Published: December 21, 2010 6:00 PM Updated: December 23, 2010 12:54 PM
    SmartCentres: Council adopts OCP, zoning bylaws.
    Salmon Arm council has given final reading to the SmartCentres proposal, with construction pending approval from the Ministry of Transportation. To a packed chamber, councillors delivered their final comments relating to the controversial shopping centre proposal to be built at the west end of town. City administrator Carl Bannister clarified that council, having gone through the July public hearing, has not been allowed to receive any further submissions from the public. Coun. Ken Jamieson, prior to speaking to an official community plan amendment to re-designate approximately nine acres from Salmon Valley Agricultural to Highway Commercial, commented on the timing of this special council meeting, stating he was there under protest. "I know there will be a quorum with or without me," said Jamieson. "So I want to make sure I am part of the process..." Jamieson then noted how the OCP change may seem small in terms of the footprint being added to the urban containment boundary, but he called it a wedge that "opens the door to a large-scale development that I feel is inappropriate to that site." Jamieson was the only one to oppose the amendment, as well as the two that followed. Coun. Ivan Idzan was absent. The next two amendments related to the creation of a CD8 Comprehensive Development Zone, and rezoning portions of the property to that new zone. Coun. Alan Harrison was supportive of the rezoning because the developer had met a number of conditions. These include the registration of covenants with the Ministry of Environment in relation to Riparian Areas Regulation and floodplain setbacks. "In fact, the RAR actually moves the floodplain setbacks much farther from the natural boundaries of the river and the lake than is required by the floodplain legislation," said Harrison. Harrison also made note of a no-build covenant that prevents SmartCentres from beginning construction until design plans are approved by the Ministry of Transportation. Jamieson raised concerns relating to properties on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway, across from the SmartCentres site. He said access points might change, representing long-term costs for the city. Bannister said there could be changes to access points on both the north and south sides - and what those costs to the city will be, "remains to be seen in the future, when it will be up to the council of the day." SmartCentres manager Nathan Hildebrand said he would probably be returning to council for the development permit in January. Once the permit is approved, which he expects will be in February, work on the land will begin.   top  home


    WEST COAST ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ASSOCIATION COVERAGE


    West Coast [Environmental Law Association]'s opinion is that the City of Salmon arm has demonstrated how not to use Phased Development Agreements -

    Democracy shut out of Salmon Arm's SmartCentres development for 10 years

    On July 26th Salmon Arm's City Council voted to allow SmartCentres to build a major new shopping centre outside of the City's core on environmentally sensitive land adjacent to the Salmon River. That's bad for the environment, and probably the community, for so many reasons (sprawl, storm water management, impact on fish habitat, etc.) ...

    In addition to rezoning the SmartCentres property to allow the development, Salmon Arm City Council also adopted a Phased Development Agreement (PDA) - guaranteeing SmartCentres that no future City Councils, even if elected on a groundswell of public opposition to the continued expansion of the development, could change the new zoning without the permission of the development company for at least 10 years. West Coast's opinion is that the City of Salmon Arm has demonstrated how not to use Phased Development Agreements, and the BC government needs to step up to the plate and provide long-promised guidance on when and how these agreements should be used in a way that protects the community and environment. [ complete article ]   top  home