Canal Flats OCP a future growth plan

Draft OCP released for Council approval

The Village of Canal Flats has created a new Official Community Plan (OCP), one that reflects the changing times in the village.

The first draft was released in March and received for information by Canal Flats Council April 8th, with first reading set for the Council meeting of Tuesday, April 23rd (past the Pioneer’s press deadline).

The OCP is “intended to provide a framework to guide growth and development in Canal Flats towards the community’s vision for the future. The Plan offers policy direction on environmental protection and preservation, land use, housing, infrastructure and servicing, parks and open space, and social and economic development,” reads the introduction to the draft OCP.

The plan was developed through a committee: Mayor Karl Sterzer, Councillor Marie Delorme, CAO Adrian Bergles, as well as public representation by Dean Midyette, Susan Baker, Mark Chadney, Gilbert Delorme, and chaired by Kelly Kask. Mr. Kask, who owns The Flats RV and Campground, said it was an interesting experience to be involved with the OCP creation.

“It was a ‘future’ document; you really had to step back and evaluate the urban containment values and things like that – where we want to grow and how to grow,” Mr. Kask said.

The old OCP was adopted in 2005 at the time of the village’s incorporation. Mayor Sterzer sat on the OCP advisory committee at the time, alongside Ms. Delorme. That OCP did not meet the needs of the changing community, he said.

“We really wanted to try and get it right this time around,” Mayor Sterzer said, adding he feels they have now created an incredibly strong document to launch Canal Flats into the future.

“The number one goal out of our OCP would be the fact we’re creating a landscape in this village that would facilitate job creation and really create an ultimate place to live,” he said.

Key features include creating an environment that will foster the village’s goal of increasing the number of residents to 1,000 by 2026, a master plan for development in pre-determined zones, and encouraging business and residential growth within the urban containment boundary. They looked at ALR lands, discussed creating a visible and welcoming gateway to Canal Flats, investigated lifestyle pricing and got “really creative” with zoning lot sizes and minimum build sizes, Mayor Sterzer listed. The OCP acknowledges the environmentally sensitive areas and includes shoreline development permit areas, as well as works to minimize urban sprawl.

Alongside the OCP process, the Village did a hotel feasibility study, industrial land strategy plan and other key documents, all with the goal of working together to provide a guideline for future growth in the village.

“It was a lot of heavy lifting, and a lot for us to take on, but I’m pretty proud of it,” Mayor Sterzer remarked.

He says for many years, residents in Canal Flats have happily let people drive by without really knowing the great beauty and natural assets found in the village. But there is a new generation that acknowleges and encourages the idea that with growth in the village, it will mean people can afford to live in Canal Flats and stay in place for longer, and services such as the school can remain while others could be added such as primary care facilitities, the mayor stated.

“We feel the success of this OCP will make a difference to the overall Columbia Valley,” Mayor Sterzer said.

The OCP was developed with ample public consultation, including traditional and social media, as well as through the village’s community newsletter, and several public consultation sessions. Ultimately, the committee worked to incorporate ideas from citizens into the final document. Evidence of the public’s satisfaction in the new OCP are reflected in the amount of people who provided questions, comments and concerns at the start of the process, and how that number has dwindled through time as citizen’s queries were answered and their concerns heard, Mayor Sterzer explained.

Mr. Kask agreed there was a lot on the table to work through, but he feels the final document reflects a positive step forward for the village.

“I think we’re poised for success for the next 15 years,” Mr. Kask said, adding the OCP is “going to say ‘we’re open for business’.”

When asked about the final document, Mr. Kask said he feels fairly confident the public input was captured in the draft OCP.

“We built a pretty good cake, and the icing’s going to look great on it,” he quipped.

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