Backyard chickens for food security? Secondary suites for housing affordability? Cottage neighbourhoods for sociability?
Creston Valley residents are being offered a unique opportunity to weigh in on aligning local land use with community goals. Today, the Town of Creston is launching an innovative scavenger hunt-style survey that will gather community input on 35 Official Community Plan (OCP) themes.
Through July 20, OCP challenge stations will be set up around the town, where people will be able to answer the questions using a paper scavenger hunt map, a local mobile app or a website. Scheduled OCP challenge walks will get groups of neighbours out and about in Creston, sharing ideas about what comes next for their community.
The challenge process is the second round of Official Community Plan engagement. So far, nearly 700 Creston Valley citizens have taken part in a series of facilitated activities and conversations. Participants have been as young as six and as old as 100. Initial dialogue has centred on crafting made-in-Creston definitions of liveability, connectivity, prosperity and resiliency to help guide local land use. In interviews and small-group discussions, community members have also explored goals and parameters for residential, commercial, industrial and other development.
“We have aimed for a truly meaningful and inclusive engagement process,” said Creston Mayor Ron Toyota. “Schoolchildren have drawn murals of what they would like Creston to look like. High school students have written short essays on where they want to be in life by the time we are next due for an OCP review. Groups of disabled residents have given input on working towards more accessible land use. Citizens of all ages and backgrounds have been helping to set direction for the town.”
In this round, community members will be asked specific followup questions. Each of the 35 OCP challenge stations will ask for some targeted feedback. For instance, at a downtown streetscape challenge station, a menu of photos will allow residents to shed light on how design guidelines could help fulfill a local preference for a “small-town” atmosphere for Creston’s downtown core.
People will be invited to answer as many questions as they wish, in whatever way is most convenient for them. Each question a person answers will give them a chance to win prizes. Each question answered at its posted location (instead of online) will mean an extra chance to win.
“The goal is a fun, dynamic process that achieves community consultation, community building, and civic education objectives,” said town manager Lou Varela. “It already feels like we are leading a home-grown, grass-roots planning process.”
The Creston OCP engagement process is being carried out by Kootenay Employment Services, which has also led other recent community and economic development planning efforts. It was tasked with creating a process that would not only build a solid foundation for the 2016 OCP, but also actively build community and serve other local community development players, including neighbouring jurisdictions.
“We have approached this OCP review as an opportunity to plan for the future and meet some local goals in the moment,” said project lead Laura Hannant. “People have been asking for more fun activities that help to pull our community together and grow our shared sense of place. We hope that the OCP challenge game will do just that. We can’t wait to see families, co-workers, and groups of neighbours out for OCP challenge walks! We look forward to sharing the results with other groups like ours who can help the town to follow through on the ideas that are gathered.”
Guided challenge walks run 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. July 9 (leaving from Creston Valley Farmers’ Market), 6-8 p.m. July 12 (from town hall) and 6-8 p.m. July 19 (from Creston and District Community Complex).
—TOWN OF CRESTON