Lorri Fehr, Columbia Lake Technology Centre’s chief executive officer. UBCM photo

Canal Flats in the limelight at B.C. municipal meeting

Village awarded honourable mention for Excellence in Governance

Canal Flats was a model of success at this year’s Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention. The little village that could was feted for the growth and development accomplished in the community since the devastating blow that hit them in 2015 when the Canfor mill shut down.

The Village of Canal Flats received Honourable Mention in Excellence in Governance for its new Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaw at a ceremony in front of hundreds of provincial government ministers, and B.C. local government elected officials and staff from around the province. Excellence in Governance recognizes decision-making processes and policies that are outcomes-based and consensus oriented, support and encourage citizen participation, are efficient, equitable, inclusive and transparent, and exemplify best practises in accountability, effectiveness, and long-term thinking.

The new OCP and Zoning Bylaw, adopted in June 2019, integrates economic development and community planning policy. The new policy was created by working with a committee of community volunteers, contracted planners from B&A Planning Group, Council and staff of the Village of Canal Flats. Public outreach included several open houses and workshops, online engagement, the community newsletter, and more.

The policy breakthroughs include: innovation in housing types; work-live downtown; mixed-use master planning; and economic development planning that nurtures accelerated investment (e.g. parking standards removal for commercial buildings, and a significant reduction of regulation for responsible home-based businesses – a competitive advantage for Canal Flats).

Canal Flats Mayor Karl Sterzer says the Village knew they were potentially in the lineup for a community innovation award, and it was a nice surprise to be honoured at the convention. Councillor Marie Delorme and CAO Adrian Bergles received the award on Canal Flats’ behalf. Mayor Sterzer was in another session where he had been asked to speak, alongside Lorri Fehr and Brian Fry of the Columbia Lake Technology Centre. The trio gave two keynote presentations about what they had done in the community when they faced the mill shutdown.

“We’ve been working really really hard to figure this out,” says Mayor Sterzer. “We’ve been really blessed to have all these great teams to work with: the team at CLTC – Lorri Fehr and Brian Fry – have been unbelievable to work with.”

Attendees included municipal leaders and people in the technology fields interested in replicating some of what Canal Flats has done within their own communities.

“We made a lot of great connections with other communities that not only want to learn from us, but work with us,” Mayor Sterzer said.

To learn more about UBCM, see www.ubcm.ca.

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