Creston’s OCP is official
With the generous help from members of the community, Creston, B.C., has an updated OCP
How can planners inspire enthusiastic resident involvement in the planning for their community’s future? In Creston, B.C., the process of updating the town’s Official Community Plan (OCP) included a mobile app, a website, a scavenger hunt, community events, meetings and lots of listening.
The finalized OCP is called “Freshly Picked Future,” and its introduction states, in part:
"This was easily the largest community engagement process in the Town of Creston’s history. The public’s response to the invitation to help plan for Creston’s future far surpassed the Town’s expectations."
A broad range of community stakeholder perspectives were represented by garnering input through kitchen table talks, community events, one-on-one interviews and other modalities. According to the freshly minted OCP document, that information gathering was extremely fruitful and, in some ways, notably innovative. For instance, the scavenger hunt—called the OCP Challenge—generated a great deal of information:
"More than 250 people aged 14 to 80 took part in the (OCP) Challenge. Their participation generated 3533 responses to the Challenge questions and almost 1000 other ideas for Creston’s future."
More than 8,300 participants submitted their names for a prize draw by participating in some form of OCP community engagement.
Among those contributing time and energy to Creston’s OCP through a year of planning were Kootenay Employment Services, the Lower Kootenay Band, directors from the Regional District of Central Kootenay, staff and councillors from the Town of Creston, community volunteers and Creston students of all ages. Finally, as of May 30, the new, 145-page OCP has been adopted.
The OCP addresses six aspects of life in Creston: community engagement and Creston experience principles, community context, land use policies, development permit areas, energy and greenhouse gas emissions, and community goals and policies.
Within those areas of focus, attention is paid to issues like management of residential growth, infrastructure, the natural environment, economic prosperity, downtown vibrancy, valley collaboration, quality of life and inclusive local identity, among others.
“It’s a long range plan that’s about residential infill rather than expansion,” said Creston’s mayor, Ron Toyota. And implementation is a key part of the OCP. “For instance, to support connectivity and walkability from the two hubs in Creston—the downtown and the Creston Valley Mall—we just opened public washrooms in our downtown – this project has been in the works for quite a while but the call for this amenity was resoundingly heard throughout the public engagement process.”
The aim is to make Creston more user-friendly, vibrant and inclusive; more prosperous; more socially responsible; and more responsible to the environment and future generations. It’s a big job, and everyone in town is busy accomplishing it.