Participants in the last Official Community Plan review might be surprised at how quickly time passes. It has been 14 years since the last update.
“Yes, it really has!” said town manager Lou Varela. “I can’t speak to the previous process, but it is my hope that this current process provides a framework to create a document that resonates with the community and provides direction on how that vision can and should be achieved.”
The yearlong process to update a document that is a statutory requirement of the provincial government has been in the planning stages since 2014. That was when planner Jamai Schile was brought in to work on contract. The OCP is one of her key responsibilities.
Stantec Consulting Ltd. representatives will work closely with Schile, Town staff and a 15-member public advisory committee to create a document that serves as a roadmap for development in coming decades. Couns. Jim Elford and Karen Unruh represent town council at the table.
The OCP is designed to be a proactive community planning tool that describes a long-term vision for the community, includes concepts and policies (but not regulation) and is “constitutional” in nature. It is intended to guide municipal decision-making regarding issues such as land use and development, environmental management, heritage and culture, and transportation. It provides direction for growth and change.
Stantec representative Mark Crisp told council at a recent meeting that the OCP process includes reviewing past documents and reports so that work previously done in the community is not ignored. The recently completed Cultivating Creston integrated community sustainability plan already articulates the community’s expressed desire to ensure that Creston and the Creston Valley is poised for economic, cultural, social and ecological success, he said.
In order to get broad community input and buy-in, the committee members will be working with specific community groups and organizations, and also organize meetings and events that will facilitate consultation with residents of all ages and interests.
“The OCP provides for expression of the values and goals of the citizens by the citizens,” Varela said. “It is a key mechanism for the citizenry to make its voice heard. Public input will define the characteristics, core values and community aspirations of our community, that will set the direction of planning and development for at least the next five years.”
Its value as a tool for town staff cannot be overstated, she added.
“The document provides guidance for managing and directing the development and growth of the community,” said Varela. “It assists council in setting regulation (zoning), lays out the community’s vision for the future and provides direction on how that vision can and should be achieved.”
Over the next year, the Advance will provide a series of updates on the process as the OCP is updated. The updates will include submissions written by committee members.