Dear Editor:

As you and many residents of Invermere are aware, the District of Invermere is currently updating our Official Community Plan (OCP). Legally, this needs to be done so that the OCP agrees with the new Imagine Invermere plan. A volunteer committee representing the interests and values of the residents of Invermere developed Imagine Invermere. You or someone you know may well have put time and energy into this work.

It is quite possible that you also visited the Imagine Invermere pop-up display downtown last summer to share your thoughts with the consultants who are paid to engage the public during this process. Perhaps you took the time to draft a letter expressing concerns or ideas you felt were important.

The final draft of the updated OCP is now before council. It is important for you to know that this final draft is substantially different than the initial draft that was shown to the public. Changes were made in private by council, against the recommendation of the consultants (those who attended the council meeting on February 24th can attest) and are at odds with the values expressed by the community in both the recent public consultation and the formation of Imagine Invermere. As an example, an entire section about protecting agricultural land has been replaced with an economic development policy to my knowledge, this has never been mentioned publicly.

If council feels strongly that these changes are necessary and desirable, they should be PROUD of them. Be open. If these are good changes, lets talk about them! Tell us why you feel they are important, and explain why they were made! Economic development is important, but why does it replace land policy? Isnt there room for both? Did we spend thousands and thousands of public dollars and hundreds of precious volunteer hours, only to have council quietly toss that information out the window? How disrespectful that would be to our valuable citizens. How wasteful of our limited resources.

If you can, please take the time to review these documents, which you can find online or by visiting the District office. If you share my concerns, please consider attending the open house on March 11th to speak with council. You can ask why these changes were made, when they were made, and if there are others to be aware of.

Spring Hawes