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Plan to be made public soon

The draft Graham Island official community plan will likely be presented to the public at open houses in November, the consultant finishing the plan told the Skeena-Queen Charlotte regional district Friday (Oct. 15).The community plan, which has been more than two years in the making and has cost at least $100,000, is a document intended to guide decisions about planning and land use management for the rural, settlement areas of Graham Island.Consultant Robert Barrs of HB Lanarc Consultants Ltd. told regional district directors that only a small part of Graham Island is covered by the plan, as it doesn't cover the municipalities or reserves and has limited jurisdiction over crown land. The plan is not intended to apply to resource use on the island and has no overlap with the BC-Haida Nation strategic land use plan, he said.The plan will describe possible locations for future residential development, describe present and proposed land uses including commercial, industrial, institutional, agricultural, recreational and public utility, and can put restrictions on the use of land that is environmentally sensitive or subject to hazardous conditions.Mr. Barrs said the company he works for, HB Lanarc, was hired last year to complete the plan after the original consultants stopped doing this kind of work. So far, HB Lanarc has developed two drafts, reviewed the plan with a local advisory group, hard back from government agencies, and is now waiting for comments from the Council of the Haida Nation.One of the only unresolved issues, he said, is minimum lot sizes when it comes to agricultural use in the Tlell area."We haven't really nailed down what is the appropriate lot size for agriculture," he told directors. "We've gone backwards and forwards on that issue quite a bit."He said the draft plan could be made public as soon as late October, but the timeline will depend on when they receive a response from the CHN. The draft plan will be presented at public open houses, then will receive first and second reading from the regional district. There will then be a formal public hearing, and the plan could be changed again before it is finally adopted sometime in 2011.The plan's vision and guiding principles, Mr. Barrs said, recognize and respect Haida culture, and see rural Graham Island serving a future role as a source of food for the islands, through both natural harvesting and agriculture.