Rural Oliver director offers highlights of the past year
Issues concerning transportation, outdoor burning, farming and floods have kept Area C director Rick Knodel busier this year than a baling machine in August.
“The last few months have been interesting to say the least,” he said. “With the COVID-19 infection the RDOS has had to develop a whole new way of doing its business.”
Knodel said the pandemic created a situation for the oose Bay agricultural camp, which the province has now invested in.
“It is my hope that this will provide a much-needed tax break in the upcoming budget year.”
The director noted there has been some progress on formalizing the river channel as the official hike and bike corridor. The applications for tenure have been formalized, but it can take up to two years to complete, he pointed out.
Knodel said this route is falling into disrepair and needs maintenance and upgrading. He stated that Areas B, C, and G are in discussions about joining the Similkameen and South Okanagan hike and bike trail through the Fairview corridor.
“If this is possible it would have to be up for consideration prior to the proposed national park.”
Knodel said the other topic generating a lot of discussion in rural Oliver is transportation. Some of the issues include passing lanes, corner vision concerns, abandoned vehicles, signage for bicycles, Secrest Hill Road pedestrian warnings, maintenance and the “ever popular” snow removal debate.
“There is also a request to raise the east branch of Park Rill Road a few inches as a way to reduce damage done by tire wash during the flooding season.”
Knodel has submitted a project (for funding) involving the installation of segregated bicycle lanes on a number of agricultural back roads. He noted many of these are becoming very busy with farm equipment trucks, tractors, livestock and sightseeing tourists. “Adding an ever-increasing number of bicyclists and we have been very lucky to not have seen a tragic incident as of yet.”
The roads he submitted for consideration are Sumac (Road 7), Black Sage Road, White Lake/Fairview Road and Green Lake Road.
Knodel attended the Union of BC Municipalities convention and had three virtual meetings with ministers.
In one meeting, he encouraged the use of air trenches and air curtain burners for agricultural burning. This equipment reduces the smoke produced from these burns to a point of near elimination.
Currently, when people burn prunings and other brush piles, it fills the valley with smoke.
“I realize the absolute necessity for these burns, and as I suffer from a severe lung condition, I am one of many people eager to see a solution.”
Knodel also touched on the issue of the Agricultural Land Commission expanding non-farm use on farmland.
“The purpose here is to slow expansion of corporate farming and provide economic opportunity for small family farms,” he said.
This will provide and maintain a wider variety of crops, expanding diversity to benefit the hospitality and tourist industries, he pointed out.
“Corporates shy away from anything but the highest yield and this has been putting stress on crops like tree fruits and berries and vegetables.”
Knodel said it is suggested the RDOS tie the usage to the property owner and not to the land. This would be done by temporary use permits.
Flood mitigation continues to be an important issue for the director who brought it up again at the convention.
One issue in particular is what he calls a “deeply flawed” permitting system for work in and around creeks and streams that cross private property.
He said this system has become overly costly and onerous in detail.
Knodel added if creeks and streams are left on their own, they will slowly build up silt and change course. This raises the need to maintain the depths and direction on a regular basis.
The director said flood events cause the need to remove existing culverts that become obstructed during high flows.
“At the conclusion of these events it becomes necessary to quickly replace the culverts to allow residents to return to normal life.”
It is also necessary to return the creek or stream to its original bed depth to prevent the stream from changing direction, he said.
As these actions constitute returning properties to pre-flood conditions, no permits should be required, Knodel said.
His request to government is to remove the creek and stream maintenance from the permitting system and control the process through a reasonable regulation system. This would also include the replacement or upgrade of culverts.