Shannon Marshall

Shannon Marshall

A new plan for Castlegar and a chance to have your say

The official civic plan for Castlegar has undergone its first major overhaul in 12 years and the city is now looking for feedback on the document, which is still in a draft stage but will soon come into force.

  • May. 13, 2011 2:00 p.m.

The official civic plan for Castlegar has undergone its first major overhaul in 12 years and the city is now looking for feedback on the document, which is still in a draft stage but will soon come into force.

City staff will host an open house on May 25 to gather responses from Castlegar residents about the new Official Community Plan (OCP) which outlines the vision for municipal growth and development for the next decade or so.

The 98-page plan is wide-ranging in scope, covering everything from the airport to residential development to industrial diversification to parks and recreation.

But if he had to sum it up in one word, planning technician Shannon Marshall, who was one of the lead authors of the document, would probably pick “sustainability.”

“That’s the key component – that (the OCP) provides environmental, economic and social sustainability,” Marshall said.

The new plan will replace the Castlegar Community Plan, which the city adopted in 1999. Marshall said revisions are made to community plans every so often but the new OCP marks a “major updating.”

One of the main points in the new document, he added, is a focus on encouraging residential development within existing municipal boundaries.

“We’re encouraging infill,” Marshall said. “We’re looking for compact, mixed-use development.”

The city hopes to accomplish this through zoning bylaws and land-use policies which encourage the development of higher-density housing and more mixed residential/commercial use in a number of areas, including downtown.

Phil Markin, the city’s director of development services, said once city council adopts the new plan, councillors will be bound to follow its zoning policies.

“Once an OCP is adopted … any land use changes will have to be consistent with it,” he said.

Mayor Lawrence Chernoff expects council to follow the plan closely once it comes into effect.

“Once adopted by council, I believe this document will be a cornerstore document to ensure the sustainability of our community in the years to come,” he said.

The plan itself has been two years in the making, and Marshall said the city “got the ball rolling” by bringing together focus groups to brainstorm ideas.

“That’s where we gained a lot of what went into this document,” he said. “The focus groups generated an abundance of ideas.”

From there the ideas went to a steering committee composed of people with a wide range of interests (including representatives from the city, Selkirk College and the Kootenay Food Strategy Society, to name just a few) who helped refine the broad thoughts into more specific goals.

That eventually turned into the draft report, which is now available on the city website – www.castlegar.ca – under the “Spotlight” section on the main page.

Marshall and Markin invited Castlegar residents to take a look at the document and to attend a community open house on May 25 to provide feedback on it, before a final draft makes its way to council for adoption.

The open house will run from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community Forum, located at 445 13th Avenue.

There will be a presentation at 6:30 p.m. but Marshall said anyone is welcome to drop in to learn more or to offer their opinions at any point during the five-hour stretch.

And don’t worry, hockey fans. In case Vancouver’s series with the San Jose Sharks goes that long, you won’t be missing any of the action by attending the open house.

“We made sure it wasn’t on a Canucks game night,” Markin said.