Catherwood annexation referendum denied by province

B.C. government denies city request to have referendum on Catherwood Road annexation; says it would need to be held by March 4.

The two Catherwood Properties are located near the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

The two Catherwood Properties are located near the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

The Catherwood Road annexation applications are dead, for now.

The province denied the City of Revelstoke permission to hold a referendum on the applications, saying it wouldn’t be able to meet a March 4 deadline to hold one.

“Given the elector response deadline date was December 16, 2016, assent voting would have needed to occur no later than March 4, 2017,” wrote Peter Fassbender, the Minister of Community, Sports & Cultural Development, in a letter to council. “As the city has made no preparation for such a vote, it does not appear that the Catherwood proposal can proceed in its current form.”

The Local Government act says a referendum must take place within 80 days of the end of the alternative approval process.

The referendum would have been over whether or not two properties totalling 53 acres in size on Catherwood Road could have been annexed to the city. One is owned by David Evans and the other by Peter Bernacki, Melinda Bell and Richard Mickle. They made the application in order to gain access to city services to facilitate future development.

Council supported the annexation and the city held an alternative approval process, in which an annexation can be stopped if at least 10 per cent sign a petition against it.

They are rarely successful, but in this case the opposition, which was led by Daren Corneliuson and Andy Parkin, collected 577 valid signatures — only 11 more than needed.

They argued the lands shouldn’t be developed and should remain part of the Agricultural Land Reserve. While the application was not to remove them from the ALR, the argument held sway.

On Jan. 24, council voted to hold a referendum on the issue, arguing that it would also seek the opinion of those in support, not just those against. First, they had to get approval from the province to hold it.

Concurrent to all this, council supported partnering with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District to conducting a diagnostic inventory of the South Revelstoke area. The goal of the study is to look at base data for the area to assist with future boundary adjustments and annexation requests.

The province is contributing $30,000 for the study, while the city and CSRD are contributing $15,000 each.

Fassbender said the applications could be brought forward again after the study is completed.

“It is my understanding that, once this study is complete, the city and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District will be in a better position to assess the broader implications of governance change in the lands south of Revelstoke,” he wrote. “Through the study’s proposed public engagement process, the city and regional district will also be afforded the opportunity to hear the wide range of community perspectives in an open and transparent process.”

The city was planning to hold the referendum on Saturday, April 29. Fassbender’s letter denying council’s request came on Feb. 23, 2017.

Council is set to discuss the matter at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

More to follow…