Some residents carried signs into Kimberley’s McKim Middle School Theatre Monday night reading “Yes to Industry, No to Location”.
However, any planned protest was subdued in the City’s final public discussion on a proposed update to its Official Community Plan.
Many of the more than one hundred people in attendance were there to comment on what the future should look like for the Marysville Benchlands.
In what has been a sometimes loud conservation about the popular recreation site, members of the community, old and new, made submissions to either keep the property as is or open it up for business.
The new OCP proposes to designate the 24 acre site for light industrial development.
The former OCP created in 2005 has the Benchlands earmarked for industry but was never developed.
The land has become popular for many who enjoy it for its easy access and picturesque views.
Opponents to the designation argue they don’t want to lose their beloved green space.
They consider the area above their neighbourhood as a gem of the community; something that makes Kimberley so unique.
Others suggested it provides an option for seniors or those with disabilities to also enjoy the outdoors.
The City claims any development would not affect the existing trails.
Supporters assert industry is needed in Kimberley as residential tax rates are too high and there are no jobs for youth who will be forced to move away to find work.
Brandi O’Neill is a mother with young children and believes future generations should be heard in this conversation too.
O’Neill was living in Kimberley and commuting to Cranbrook for work so she ultimately created a business locally.
She suggests people who move to the community and contribute should be heard as well.
Price insists, if its done right, modern Industrial Parks can actually bring improvements to make them more accessible and not devalue nearby residents properties and cause noise issues.
One resident expressed concern about what she perceived to be a larger issue at hand.
In the 17 years Sherri Kearns has lived in Kimberley, she says she’s never seen the community so divided.
She worries the tension could lead to larger problems and points to the recent situation involving an OCP process for the Jaffray area.
After two years of work by RDEK staff, the proposed community plan became so controversial the Regional District board decided to scrap it and not implement any land use planning regulations.
Kearns believes Kimberley is approaching that point and it may be best for City Council to not move ahead with its plan but instead keep the Benchlands recreational.
City Council will make their final vote on the OCP at an upcoming meeting.
– Resident Brandi O’Neill
– Resident Brett Price
– Resident Sherri Kearns