The Fort St. John official community plan is receiving a large amount of public input.
On Saturday, multiple consultation meetings were held at the North Peace Cultural Centre, providing the general public the opportunity to provide their opinions and recommendations on the Official Community Plan or OCP.
Over the past four years, the city has completed three major and two minor public consultation processes. The information presented at Saturday’s meetings were the results from those consultation sessions.
The meeting was designed to provide the public the opportunity to prioritize objectives presented in relation to various topics. The topics presented to the public were transportation, culture/recreation, environment, food security, economic development, affordable housing, land use and infrastructure/ growth.
One topic presented was infrastructure and growth. The goal presented was to provide services and infrastructure in the most sustainable and efficient manner possible, to ensure long time fiscal and environmentally sustainable city.
Some of the objectives set for reaching this goal were to ensure a well maintained community infrastructure, identify maximum limit for municipal growth and to promote water conservation. According to the general public in attendance, the highest priority objective is to ensure the natural environment is preserved, protected and enhanced.
When dealing with the issue of food security, three goals were presented. These goals include providing long-term access and provide protection for the use of agricultural land, provide the ability for residents to produce healthy food for their own consumption and to ensure residents of Fort St. John long term access to fresh/healthy food.
The objectives regarding this topic include ensuring the preservation, protection and enhancement of natural environments, which took top priority. Other objectives are to provide education and training to grow/raise food within the city, support the local farmers market and to create a healthy community through healthy living education.
Food security is currently not included in the OCP, but is something the city feels is necessary to include in the future.The public meetings and opinions gathered are being used as a method to test whether or not to include this topic in the OCP.
Environment was another topic presented to the public, with its goal being to approach sustainability through the preservation, protection and enhancement of the natural environment.
The objectives presented to achieve this goal are to develop a comprehensive water conservation strategy, to develop an air pollution action plan and to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions. Although the highest priority objective was to increase investment in water, wastewater, energy and air quality management.
City Planner Kevin Brooks says that these public meetings are essential, as they provide much necessary public feedback in developing the OCP. He says the next step is to summarize all the information gathered through these meetings and present that summary back to the community.
Brooks says the information will be presented back to the public during Municipal Government Day on May 25, asking citizens for feedback and clarification on the progress made on the OCP.
According to Brooks, it’s a long and tedious process, but one that is essential in producing a well developed OCP.
If interested in providing feedback to help develop the new OCP, please visit the official website to fill out their survey. All the information presented at these meetings is available at the website.