The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board has rezoned property in Athalmer around the crossroads to prepare for future commercial and residential development opportunities.
The rezoning application, presented by Richard Haworth, agent, on behalf of Bad Toro Properties Ltd., originally included a request to keep an existing boat storage facility located on three lots on the south side of Athalmer Road. The application faced opposition from area residents, who raised concerns about the aesthetics of driving into Invermere beside a boat / recreational vehicle storage facility. The proposal was later amended to move the storage facility at the northerly portion of Bad Toro’s property, further back from the road. Bad Toro Properties Ltd. has also agreed to screen the boat storage operation along the north perimeter visible from Athalmer Road by constructing a solid wood fence at least six feet high.
One letter writer cited general opposition to the rezoning, which will allow for a mix of residential and commercial opportunities, writing it will negatively impact the neighbourhood due to increased traffic, pollution, noise, loitering and trespassing as well as reduced safety and property values.
The rezoning will allow commercial development on lands near Athalmer Road borderings Canadian Tire, and residential development on the southerly lands behind existing development.
The residential zoning opens up the possibility for a wider range of housing, explains RDEK planning technician Tracy Van de Wiel. The old zoning permitted a traditional-style mobile home park, with pad rentals for homes. The new zone permits subdivision housing, where homeowners could buy a lot and opt to put a variety of housing choices on it, from mobile homes to manufactured homes to traditional builds, for example.
Richard Haworth told the Pioneer the first step for the property owner, Leo Johnson, was to rezone. However, there are no specific plans in place yet for the properties. Mr. Johnson was unavailable for comment prior to press time.
One of the lots has a building that was retrofitted to use as a data centre. While the use is not accommodated in the Upper Columbia Valley Zoning Bylaw, the RDEK has agreed to add a definition for a data centre to the zoning bylaw, and added data centre as a permitted use on this property.
Susan Clovechok, Area F director, voted in favour of the rezoning.
“I supported it because the application is cleaning up the zoning in that area,” she said. “And it was a much easier decision, frankly, when the applicant chose to move the boat storage.”