Turning inner space into outer space

August 4, 2011

Growth pressure forces North Shuswap to make tough choices

It’s not easy finding information about Scotch Creek and the North Shuswap on the Internet. The Wikipedia entry for Scotch Creek describes it as “a small community in British Columbia based on summer tourism located on the shores of northern Shuswap Lake at the mouth of the creek of the same name.” And that’s it.

What I was hoping for was some indication of the population. After all, Scotch Creek has been designated by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District as the primary area for higher-density development. The idea is to maintain the rural character of the rest of the North Shuswap. was the only site I could find that would go out on a limb and peg the population of “the area” at 3,200. That’s more than I would have expected, but they may be taking into account the influx of summer residents. Even so, there are incorporated villages — Ashcroft and Cache Creek come to mind — that have smaller populations.

A proposal for 163 to 195 housing units shows there must be enough demand from outside to make Scotch Creek even bigger. And I can see why current residents would be torn. The community as it stands definitely has a feel to it that has been lost in most other centres. Other than SuperValu and a couple of hardware outlets, the businesses are all local and unique. It has to be to one of the few places left uncontaminated by McDonald’s or Tim Hortons.

Would a couple hundred more housing units change all that? Maybe not right away, but as long as there are city folks clamouring for their piece of the recreational pie, the pressure for growth will not go away any time soon. And with more growth, the character of the community will be placed at risk.

On the other hand, if there is no growth — or very limited growth — the inventory of available cottages, campsites and homes will rise in price to the point where only the very rich will be able to afford to live there. And that, too, would change things — families, for example, don’t often thrive in that kind of atmosphere.

I don’t envy the choices that residents of the North Shuswap have to make. I just hope they proceed very carefully.