Volunteer commission members play crucial role in TNRD planning

Mel Rothenburger is the TNRD Director for Electoral Area P, including Whitecroft and Heffley Creek. He was the mayor of Kamloops from 1999-2005 and a former newspaper editor.

Planning for development in the regional district is a little bit science, a little bit art and a lot of input.

There are usually several steps that need to be taken whenever a proposed development is in need of some fine tuning and TNRD involvement, and the Advisory Planning Commission (APC) is one of the groups that provides input on various applications.

In the TNRD, there are three APCs, one of which is the APC that covers Electoral Areas J, L, M and P. APCs are part of the process for developments within the unincorporated areas of the TNRD.

The APC reviews applications referred to it on land use, community planning or proposed bylaws and permits. A lot of it is about zoning.

I was pleased very recently to appoint a brand-new member to the APC that includes Electoral Area P (Rivers and the Peaks). She is Deb McDougall, a resident of Heffley who is the very essence of community volunteerism.

Deb is secretary of the Kamloops Games Society, volunteer communications director for the Heffley Creek Gun Club, secretary-treasurer of the Heffley Creek Community Recreation Association and publisher/editor/reporter of the Heffley Creek Holler weekly paper. She does all this in her “spare” time after commuting daily to Chase where she is teaching principal at the Neskonlith Education Centre and serving as secretary for Sun Hill Cattle ranch and executive assistant for Sun Hill Apiaries.

I’ve worked with Deb on quite a few matters in connection with the Heffley Creek Hall. I don’t know where she finds so much energy. She’s a passionate community advocate and has no hesitation in speaking up if she feels government should be doing more for the community.

Deb fills a vacancy left by the recent death of long-time member Arne Raven, a rancher in the Pritchard area. Arne was another highly active volunteer, among other things being instrumental in the construction of the Pritchard Community Hall.

The other two APC members appointed via Area P are Peter Nixon and Dave Jarvis, so we’re well-represented on this august body.

I get to APC meetings whenever I can and am always impressed with the thoughtfulness given matters on the agenda by its members. Chaired by Dave Monsees of Area J for the past several years, the meetings have a very friendly, supportive and informal feel to them, but very frank as well.

Like all such groups, there are sometimes differences of opinion but the members are always respectful of each other. Recommendations from the eight-member APC go forward to the TNRD board and are considered along with those from other agencies such as Interior Health, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and owners of nearby properties.

Typically, an APC agenda might include zoning bylaw amendments or an application for a development variance, and the applicant would attend to discuss it with the commission. Members of the commission would ask questions about the proposal for clarification, and decide what to recommend to the board. Their recommendations are born out of their experience and knowledge of rural living.

Depending on the totality of the information put in front of it on an application, the board may or may not heed the APC’s advice but, often, the APC’s recommendation is key. APC meetings are held only when there’s enough business in need of discussion, so there are sometimes only three or four meetings a year. What’s outstanding about the APC is that its members are strictly volunteers — they receive no remuneration and, for the most part, work in anonymity even though their meetings are open to the public.

So, here’s a tip of the hat to this selfless group that plays such an important part in the planning process.