Sparse turnout at first of three community engagement meetings

Additional meeting planned for April 20 and April 21.

There were more than a few empty chairs last Thursday at the first of three community engagement meetings planned by city council.

There were more than a few empty chairs last Thursday at the first of three community engagement meetings planned by city council.

Only a handful of residents took the opportunity to question City of Chilliwack council and staff at the first of three “community engagement meetings” on Thursday.

Their questions ranged from air quality and waste management, to traffic flow and support for youth.

Staff and councillors easily outnumbered the 10 people who attended the event, held at Central Elementary. But they were warmly greeted by Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz, who thanked them for bringing their concerns forward.

The meetings are a stepped up effort by council to connect with the community, said Gaetz. With the arrival of many new residents to the community, she said it was important that council and staff make themselves available to the public.

Attendees heard about several projects that are planned for this year and in the next few years, including the north-south Rail Trail, which will provide a safe and fast cycling route over Highway 1. Other highlights include a new curling rink, and an additional ice surface at Twin Rinks in a revamped Watson Glen Park.

Attendees asked councillors about a timeline for the organic waste diversion plan, the possibility of synchronized traffic lights on Vedder Road, and the availability of “fast-charge” charging stations for electric vehicles.

One area that drew much comment from councillors was around the issue of youth involvement. Responding to concerns that the level of violence seen elsewhere in the Lower Mainland might occur here if young people are not sufficiently engaged, councillors reiterated their commitment to programing for youth. Not only is there an abundance of sport programs for young people, they said, there is also an active and vibrant arts community.

Thursday’s meeting was the first of three.

Residents also have an opportunity raise issues with councillors tonight (April 20) at Tyson Elementary, and then again at Promontory elementary on Thursday, April 20.

Both meetings start at 7 p.m. and go to around 9 p.m.

A series of rural community engagement meetings are also being slated for fall 2016 in the communities of Greendale, Rosedale, Yarrow and Ryder Lake.