Do you live in Pemberton? Do you see a glaring problem or area of need in your community? Do you have any thoughts or visions of what Spud Valley could (or should) look like in years to come? If so, you will soon have a chance to voice those opinions in the company of your elected representatives and fellow residents.
On Jan. 16, Village of Pemberton (VOP) staff announced the public launch of an Official Community Plan (OCP) review, as well as the first chance for residents to engage with this critical policy update: a Community Open House on Monday, March 6.
“The OCP review is a strategic priority of the Village of Pemberton council,” said Mayor Mike Richman in a press release. “This review is an opportunity to identify our vision as a community and develop a roadmap to achieve that vision. We would love the Pemberton community to get involved and join us in this important work to help determine the future of Pemberton.”
What is an OCP, and why does it matter?
The OCP is Pemberton’s highest-level policy document, communicating the municipality’s vision, goals and objectives. It outlines Pemberton’s long-term development plans, guides future land use, and acts as the basis for the Village’s approach to various social issues.
“The OCP review will address a number of important priorities in the Pemberton community, such as reconciliation, environmental sustainability and community resilience, housing, and our local economy,” said Kevin Clark, OCP review committee chair. “It is critical that we consider these important topics as we look to the future, and we hope the community will get involved.”
All of Pemberton’s other bylaws and policies need to be consistent with the OCP, explained planner Colin Brown. “Our current one was last done in 2011, so it’s past its due date,” he said. “At this point, we’re ready to go and ask the public what they think Pemberton should look like in the year 2050.”
Moreover, the OCP will build on other municipal and regional planning initiatives, including, but not limited to: the Community Climate Action Plan, Pemberton Valley Recreation Trails Master Plan, and the Age-Friendly Affordable Housing Action Plan.
Some people may view their government as an isolated entity that operates ignorant of—or indifferent to—the public’s experiences and concerns. Brown wants Pembertonians to know that is not the case, and that they can play a vital role in shaping the future of their home by engaging with the OCP review.
“This is the public’s opportunity to have their say on a whole host of issues,” he emphasized. “When we consider different development work or different projects throughout the community, one of the first places we consult is the OCP. What does the OCP say about this? And it’s built on significant public engagement.
“[As VOP staff], we have a running list of topics in our office, or in the back of our heads, but we need the public to really tell us which ones of those are most important, and what should be prioritized.”
It is still early in the process, and Brown expects that the OCP review could take anywhere from 18 months to two years to complete. For now, he and his fellow VOP staff members hope to pose three main questions to Pembertonians: what do they love about their community, what would they change, and what do they see Pemberton becoming by 2050? They are broad questions, but ones meant to spark continuing conversation in the months to come.
Open House: open to all
Accessibility was a key consideration for VOP staff regarding March 6’s Community Open House. It will take place at the Pemberton and District Community Centre, a facility in the middle of town that many can reach on foot or via bicycle. The event will run from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., with a 20-minute presentation by VOP planning consultants beginning at 5 p.m. Small group discussions will follow, allowing participants to discuss almost any issue in a fluid and approachable way.
Information boards and interactive activities will be displayed for those who are only able to drop by for a short time.
“The Open House is designed somewhat to be a drop-in, drop-out event,” Brown said. “Someone doesn’t necessarily need to be there for the whole time.”
Pembertonians who are unable to attend the Open House on March 6 are still encouraged to participate in the OCP review. One way they can do so is by way of “Kitchen Table Discussions”: informal chats with friends, family and neighbours about relevant community issues. Discussion packages can be picked up from the Village Office and Community Centre—these include self-guided talking points and a $25 food and beverage rebate to subsidize the potential cost of meeting over a meal.
Furthermore, any member of the community can contact VOP staff online at haveyoursay.pemberton.ca. The website is up to date as of Jan. 16 with more information regarding the OCP review and other projects happening in the village. Brown also urged Pembertonians to keep an eye out for posters, decals and QR codes that will go up on public buildings and vehicles this week advertising the OCP review.