A drone photographer will be capturing images at places like the Invermere splash park this year. File photo

Invermere Council gives go-ahead for drone photography; questions raised on Westside Legacy trail access

Report from Invermere Council meeting Tuesday, October 10th

Local residents enjoying the Rotary Splash Park and other Rotary Club of Invermere led projects around town may be on candid camera from above this summer, with Invermere council having approved a request from the club to use a drone for aerial photography.

The request came from Rotary member Bruce MacLaughlin during council’s Tuesday, October 10th meeting, and outlined that the club has hired local aerial photographer Bonnie Lou Ferris to use a drone to capture images of the splash park, Mt. Nelson Athletic Park, the Rotary ball diamonds and other places the club has had a hand in creating, to be used by the club for marketing purposes.

Councillor Greg Anderson asked if the Rotary Club and Ms. Ferris are aware of the many regulations and restrictions surrounding drone use.

Invermere chief administrative officer Chris Prosser replied that although Transport Canada’s regulations surrounding drones are constantly changing, Ms. Ferris has the necessary permit, license and approvals from Transport Canada, and as such is likely aware of all the rules.

Council members unanimously supported the request.

A proposed zoning bylaw amendment concerning Invermere resident Bob Nemeth came forward during the October 10th meeting.

Mr. Nemeth has a duplex, which at the time it was built was allowed under the R1 zoning covering his land. However subsequent changes in uses permitted under Invermere zoning bylaws means that a duplex is no longer allowed on R1 zoned land, leaving his property with the technical status of “legal non-conforming” (that is, it is completely legal despite not conforming to current zoning regulations).

The status, however, comes with some strict requirements, including that Mr. Nemeth can’t subdivide his property, and that if more than 75 per cent of his duplex is damaged, he can’t simply repair it to its former state, but must rebuild in a way that meets the new code.

Mr. Nemeth, concerned about the effect these requirements have on the value of his house, is seeking to have zoning changed from R1 (single family residential) to R2 (low density multi family residential), which would make his duplex “legal conforming.”

“It seems there’s some fairness (in the request), we should follow through and see what the public and neighbours think,” said Mr. Anderson.

Council gave the proposed amendment first and second reading and will hold a public hearing on the issue in the near future.

During the public question period at the end of the meeting, council was asked, now that a portion of the Westside Legacy Trail is open for use, how the public is supposed to safely get from current end of Invermere’s paved trail system, at the entrance of the CastleRock subdivision, to the official start of the trail, nearly a kilometre further south, without having to walk or cycle right on Westside Road.

“That’s the $800,000 question,” responded councillor Justin Atterbury.

The stretch of Westside Road between CastleRock (and indeed further north, right into town at Westside Park) and the start of the trail has previously been pointed out as being in relatively poor conditions, and having excessively speedy traffic, and minimal shoulders, and consequently not being particularly safe for pedestrians or cyclists.

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