Downtown Chilliwack revitalization is one of the priorities coming up in the OCP process

Citizen input on OCP is ‘critical’ says Chilliwack councillor

The Official Community Plan review process Chilliwack is underway with participation from the public starting to trickle in.

Hey, Chilliwack, can we talk?

The year-long conversation about how the city should grow over the next few decades is starting to happen — albeit slowly.

The Official Community Plan review process initiated by City of Chilliwack has been underway for about a month, with participation from the public starting to trickle in.

Councillor Jason Lum has attended some of the OCP events so far, and he’s encouraged to see numbers on the rise.

“We would definitely like to see more participation.”

Lum said it’s important for the community to realize that this is their chance to shape the new OCP, arguably the city’s most important planning document, with their feedback.

“Now is the time to be proactive, and offer input to the city about priorities, which is more productive than being reactive down the line,” he said.

Residents can attend community meetings slated for three rural areas this week:  Yarrow Community Hall (Dec. 3), Greendale Fire Hall (Dec. 5) and Rosedale Community School (Dec. 6).

Getting ample feedback during this process is “critical” for city planners and council alike, Lum pointed out.

“Finding out what people think is important,” he said. “It’s illuminating. Plus there are many creative ways to participate.”

The real question residents should be ultimately asking themselves is what kind of neighbourhood they want to live in.

“What is the neighbourhood you dream of for your children, and what kind of city do you want to do business in?” Lum said.

He recommends simplifying the questions.

“The cool thing about this process is coming up with ideas,” the councillor said.

“This is just the beginning of the conversation we’re going to have with the community.”

Not everyone is going to necessarily agree on how or where the city should grow.

“There will be some similarities and some policies where everyone might agree but there are also some areas where they are going to differ. A stronger OCP will result.”

Two open house events held so far on the north and south sides of Chilliwack yielded some feedback for the city planning team, as have some of the online questions at PlaceSpeak.com site. Make sure to click the Chilliwack Official Community Plan link.

At the open house sessions, residents were handed Chilliwack “bucks” and asked to allocate them to various municipal priorities and categories, asking where the bucks would go, if they were in council’s position with a mandate to allocate this money.

Roads (21) came out as the top priority for people who showed up at the Thursday session on the south side, followed by environmental protection (15), downtown neighborhood revitalization (14), economic development (13), recreation facilities (12), parks and trails (11), arts and culture (11), police and fire protection (9), transit (6), and public works (3).

At last Monday’s session in Evergreen Hall the priorities were somewhat different.

Not surprisingly ‘downtown neighborhood revitalization’ was the top priority for residents of Chilliwack’s north side with (20) shelling out the “bucks” for that category. Other priorities included: police and fire protection (16), economic development (16), arts and culture (15) roads (13) public works (12), parks and trails (11), transit (9), environmental protection (5), recreation facilities, and pulling up the rear, dikes (1).

The planning team has been reaching out to the community in different ways. In person, online, by email, live polling and more.

•    Fill out a community survey on the OCP review and the City’s Parks, Recreation,and Culture Strategic Master plan process

•    Enter the photo or video contest and vote for your favourite pics and videos on the notice board;

•    Attend a community event;

•    Join the online discussion at PlaceSpeak.com; or

•    Email the project team at planning@chilliwack.com.

They’ve launched a photo and video contest with prizes, and they’ve extended the deadline to Dec. 10. Just sign in at PlaceSpeak.com and upload the media files to the notice board. Photos and videos can also be sent to planning@chilliwack.com or brought into the office in person.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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