The City of Castlegar held a public hearing on Monday to discuss the Official Community Plan Bylaw 1150.
The hearing included a presentation from planning technician Shannon Marshall detailing the plan which will be used by municipal and regional governments to guide land use and community planning.
The plan reflects community values which had been identified through input from Castlegar City Council and consultation with the general public.
At the regular Council meeting, which took place after the hearing, the Official Community Plan, Bylaw 1150, was read and moved for a third time and adopted by Council.
“It’s been adopted and is now a living document that continues on. You can update it now,” said mayor Lawrence Chernoff. “It’s more of a guideline really. Some of the things were looking at is the airport property, the infill [using existing vacant lots for development], all those kinds of things. It’s having a plan and somewhat a vision so that you look towards the future and that’s what this document does.”
The vision for the plan states: Castlegar is a small city with a big heart, and BIG ideas. It’s a place where opportunity meets lifestyle. Our community is shaped through innovation: innovation in sustainability, regional servicing, and technology. We area a community with a sense of place, created by people with purpose and passion surrounded by trees, mountains, and water, we have a consistently high quality landscape and airspeed. Excellence in energy action and conservation showcases our leadership in environmental stewardship. Our economic affordable, housing forms are diverse, neighbourhoods are complete and inclusive and the community is well serviced. We are a connection point that unites the region – a hub from which to explore life’s adventure. Nature and technology are our enablers. We have opened our eyes to what’s possible and live happily ever after in Castlegar.
“This is what the plan details where you can put things in the proper perspective. Multiple dwelling areas, single housing and all those, so there is a place in the community for these things to develop,” said Chernoff. “So as you get development permits, it allows you to develop these areas. We can see what will fit in different areas.”
The turnout at Thursday open house was unfortunate small, but Counsellor Deb McIntosh said that the public has had plenty of other opportunities where they have contributed to the plan.
“I’m a little disappointed to see no one here for the public hearing, although there has been some really good, upstanding citizens that came and put a lot of hard work into the document, a lot of thought, a lot of back and forth,” she said. “This was something that was done by the citizens not by council. This has been directed by the people that pay the taxes and live in the community. We’re really proud of the document. We think Shannon did a great job and we’re pleased that people came forward to help with it.”
“The Plan has been in the making for two years. The public has had some great ideas with what they would like to see or not see in the community,” he said. “It’s really a guideline – something to follow so you don’t get the hodgepodge. You need to have planning. You need to be able to set your community up so it has a place to grow but to grow in the proper places.”
One of the areas in Castlegar that the Plan looks at for growth is the airport area.
“We’ve got that big, nice 37 acres at the airport that were putting in water over there – that’s all part of the airport development plan. That helps the economy of the community and that’s really what you are trying to do,” said Chernoff. “It’s the same thing as density. If someone wants to build an apartment where do you thing the best place would be? It might be downtown because you’ve already got the infrastructure in place so let’s make it a little denser and a little bit bigger. We are longitudinal here so let’s compress that and maybe go up or do whatever we need to do.”
The mayor said that planning for the future is crucial in growing Castlegar.
“We’re really looking for economic development,” he said. “To sustain this community over the long term and move it away from a one horse town, or one resource town and that’s where the planning comes into place. It’s like the gaming centre – that’s jobs and those kind of things. All those things we can do on the airport property gives us more jobs, more taxation, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”