The public will have one more opportunity to speak to two dynamic, community-driven, municipal planning documents: the City of Salmon Arm’s official community plan and the greenways strategy.
A public hearing for the current iteration of the OCP will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26 in council chambers. On the same evening, there will be a public input session for the greenways strategy.
The new OCP is a guide for future growth and development.
The OCP review process began in May 2009. The public input process was spearheaded by the OCP Review Advisory Select Committee, which included Mayor Marty Bootsma and Coun. Alan Harrison. The committee had 12 meetings between June 2009 and April 2011.
There were more than 800 responses to a community survey conducted in September and October 2009. Three public workshops were also held during the review.
The most current draft, dated Sept. 26, received second reading by council on Tuesday, Oct. 11. Development services director Corey Paiement, explained this draft reflects input by the public and municipal staff.
One particular highlight of the OCP noted by Paiement relates to the expansion of the urban containment boundary, to include two potential low density residential areas in upper Lakeshore and Hillcrest, that are currently in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
Paiement noted the Agricultural Land Commission is favourable to these suggestions, but the removal of these lands from the ALR would be dependent upon individual property owners, and would be subject to conditions.
Coun. Alan Harrison called the OCP review a comprehensive process that allowed residents substantial opportunity to provide input. He encouraged residents wishing to attend the public hearing, to first read all the related documentation available on the city’s website so that there could be good discussion.
Harrison also commended the committee, which he said represented a good cross-section of viewpoints.
“Most of the decisions were made as a group and quite unanimous. But there were compromises made by both sides… and maybe that’s a good sign,” said Harrison.
Only Coun. Kevin Flynn took issue with the OCP, arguing there are specific sites that still need to be addressed.
“I feel we’re sticking our heads in the sand with the ALR island, or the doughnut hole, one more time, and I think that is going to come to a head in the future…,” said Flynn.
After passing second reading, Bootsma reprimanded Flynn for his comments.
“Coun. Flynn, I went to all 12 of those meetings and I can assure you nobody was burying their head in the sand on any of the issues, and I think Coun. Harrison deserves an apology for that remark,” said Bootsma.
Flynn apologized, noting his remarks were not intended as criticism.
Up next was the greenways strategy. City planner Kevin Pearson explained the process that led to the creation of the strategy has run parallel with the OCP. The Greenways Liaison Committee has met 14 times over the past two years, during which time the public was able to provide input
Pearson noted at least one amendment that could happen following the public hearing, suggested by Coun. Alan Harrison, that a sidewalk along Lakeshore be moved up from a long-range priority (25 year) to a mid- or short-term one. Harrison said 25 years, to him, is unacceptable, and it should be moved ahead, recognizing there would be financial implications.
“The thing is, if you don’t reduce the term of the project, then no one’s going to think about it for 15 or 20 years,” said Harrison. “I know it’s a commitment, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a very important pedestrian corridor.”
Financing of the strategy as a whole was a concern to Harrison, who didn’t want to see the next council left with that difficult determination.
“I really hope to hear from the public and members of greenways what they think the best way would be to finance this strategy,” said Harrison.
Flynn said he supported the strategy, but emphasized that it is not just about trails.
“This is really an active transportation plan with connectivity to existing sidewalks, making sure our community is easier to get around in, both walking, hiking, and any other type of alternative transportation,” said Flynn.