Tete-Jaune to get new tourist accommodations

New tourist accommodations are slated for Tete Jaune after the Regional District approved a temporary use permit at its July board meeting.

Glen Corlett, property owner and applicant on Old Tete Jaune Road, was granted permission for three units, subject to building inspections and sewage requirements. Two of the units are bedrooms on the second floor of his log cabin shop. Corlett said he doesn’t plan to have a third unit. His two existing units have a capacity of eight adults plus children.

Corlett said the building inspection has been done and the necessary forms have been faxed to the Health Authority for sewage requirements. A 1,250 gallon holding tank has already been installed.

“We’ve got everything in place,” Corlett said in an interview.

Corlett submitted a rezoning application in 2009 to establish a tourist accommodation business, but that application was denied after a public consultation revealed a number of concerns in the community.

“One of the main concerns of the public was that Mr. Corlett was not living on the property at the time,” Ken Starchuck, director of the Robson Valley-Canoe electoral area on the Regional District Board said. “Nobody would be on the property to manage the tourist accommodations.”

Corlett has now been living on the property for over two years.

Another concern of neighbours, according to the public hearings held in 2009 and in June 2013, was the noise of sledders on Old Tete-Jaune Road. The regional district doesn’t have a noise bylaw.

“I believe Mr. Corlett has got the message that noise is a sensitive issue for some of his neighbours,” Director Starchuck said at the July board meeting.

The temporary use permit was granted, but six amendments were added, including noise restrictions after 9pm, and signs indicating accommodation users are required to trailer recreational vehicles off Corlett’s property.

Chris Morris, a nearby neighbour, attributed past noise problems to friends of Corlett, not to tourists.

“Bringing tourists into the area, that’s a good thing as long as there are regulations,” Morris said.

Michelle Wachter, Corlett’s fiancée and business partner, acknowledges past noise complaints, and agrees that it was usually with friends that noise got out of control.

“When we have clients here, we’ll be quiet as a church mouse. We don’t want to jeopardize our business.”

Kiba Dempsey, who lives near Corlett, said emotions at the June public hearing ran high and that he was mostly concerned about the polarizing effect this was having on the community. He says that coming from an urban area, he found Tete-Jaune was a refreshing community, with people looking after one another.

“We live here for the community, for the friendship and the peace and quiet.”

Peace and quiet is what Mica Mountain Lodge, across the road from Corlett’s property, has been advertising for years. The owners, who did not wish to be named citing that things are “peaceful now,” have been among the most vocal against Corlett’s application. But their issues have been mostly around noise complaints.

“We got off on the wrong foot, which is really unfortunate,” Corlett said. “If we got along with them in the beginning, we’d be sending each other overflow business.”

Corlett said he’s eager to prove his business to neighbours and that he’s willing to work with similar businesses in Tete-Jaune.

Starchuck pointed out at the July board meeting that Corlett applied for a temporary use permit instead of rezoning because he “wanted to prove to his neighbours that he can be a good tourist accommodation operator, and that his business will dovetail well into the community.”

“We’re going to be on our best behaviour from now on,” Wachter said.

A few neighbours were left disillusioned with the Regional District’s approval process, feeling concerns at the public hearing were ignored.

Terry McEachen, General Manager of Development Services with the Regional District, said the public hearings were a key part of the analysis and resulted in the six amendments to the application.

Corlett will need to apply for another temporary use permit or a zoning amendment within three years if he wants to continue operating. These would require another public hearing.

By: Thomas Rohner