A rural area near Quesnel will soon have its own plan for future development. Urban areas cannot go without an Official Community Plan, but Regional District neighbourhoods often do. Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Electoral Area B is closing in on having one, covering the Bouchie Lake and Milburn Lake areas. It would be an instruction manual for how and where developments can occur in the future, based on best practices and community wishes.
A public meeting has been called for July 12 at 7 p.m. at the Bouchie Lake Hall, as a final conversation before the Bouchie-Milburn Neighbourhood Plan comes into effect. A third vote by CRD directors is all that remains of the statutory process.
“We have finally done first and second readings,” said the area’s CRD director Barb Bachmeier. She took up the initiative after it was started by previous director Jerry Bruce. That’s how many years this has been underway. Bachmeier believes it was 2019 when the process officially started, slowed by the pandemic and other large-scale events. But the delays allowed for significant public and provincial government guidance along that way.
“This is a very rewarding project,” she said. “Nigel Whitehead is our head planner at the CRD and has been instrumental in getting this done. He has dedicated a lot of time and effort to this project.”
Oftentimes, professional consultants will be hired for these purposes, but the CRD felt it would be more instructive for future electoral areas if this Neighbourhood Plan was built in-house.
One of the last hurdles, the oversight of the Agricultural Land Commission, was recently accomplished.
“This marks a critical step in embedding the desires and vision expressed by residents of the Bouchie-Milburn area for a more localized approach to planning in their community,” said Whitehead.
“A Neighbourhood Plan outlines a detailed vision for future development in a relatively small area,” he explained. “Compared to an Official Community Plan (OCP), a Neighbourhood Plan is more specific and focused on particular topics. The Bouchie-Milburn Neighbourhood Plan will identify a strategic approach to future development, environmental issues and other land-use related priorities that may be identified by the community.”
Many issues like transportation, agricultural use, water quality, etc. are administrated by other levels of government. The public consultation was important for being able to go to these other departments and establish how to fit their processes with the expressed desires of the Bouchie-Milburn residents.
“We want to capture the community’s vision so that not only the CRD, but other provincial agencies can refer to the plan when making decisions,” Whitehead said. He added, “It has been such a great experience for me to work professionally with members and volunteers in the Bouchie Lake community throughout the planning process. This is a really great community that cares, and I thank everyone who has participated in the process.”
An extensive website outlining the Bouchie-Milburn Neighbourhood Plan is available on the CRD website, with many maps and other supporting documents. A link to this website can be clicked on the online version of this story.