I love talking with people about the Creston Valley. Those who know me have probably been caught up in a conversation or two talking about this amazing place with me. Our long and winding conversations usually start with a community activity/place/organization we have in common, and generally move from applauding the work done to date to talk of the bigger dream. The “what’s next” topic is always my favourite part of the chat. The dreams are vast and varied, but all share a common thread: our love for this place and the desire to see it thrive.
The time is long overdue for the Town of Creston to embark on a new Official Community Plan (OCP). While some people may think plans are a waste of valuable time and resources, this is one that doesn’t just sit on a shelf. An OCP becomes a local government’s handbook on priorities, values and dreams for the area. It provides a compass for council to chart a course. Where do we need to improve transportation (walking, biking, driving)? What new community amenities should we invest in? What types of activities should we allow within town boundaries?
We are so lucky that a team from Kootenay Employment Services (KES) is leading the community engagement process for the OCP. Not only does it have an incredible team of people that work day-in and day-out helping people realize their business dreams, build their skills and find work in the community, it also has become a key driver for community and economic development throughout the Creston Valley.
I have to say this isn’t your average community engagement process with flip charts and markers (although they have their place). There are so many ways to get involved! The team has developed a community scavenger hunt that is both online and at 35 locations around town. You’ll get the chance to have your say on everything from downtown revitalization, trails, housing affordability, urban agriculture and so much more. Plus, you might win an Apple iPad, free passes to the community complex or gift certificates to local businesses.
There are also lots of opportunities to participate while at other events around town in the near future. They’ll be at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market on June 4 and at Overwaitea Foods on June 7. The kids’ colouring sheets are especially adorable, plus it’s really great talking to kids about their favourite thing in town (my three-year-old’s answer was the splash park).
This is the time to think and dream big, because all big plans take lots of small steps to achieve. We’re all in this together, folks!
Jen Comer is in her first term as a Town of Creston councilor.