By Steve Hubrecht
The update of Invermeres official community plan is inching closer to completion. Planners with the district and Calgary-based consultants Urban Systems set up display boards explaining the project to the public in downtown Invermere late last week.
The display boards, which were set up in front of the old Lake Auto building on Invermeres main street on Thursday, September 18th and Friday, September 19th, presented an idea of what the official community plan will look like once it has been incorporated with the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan or Imagine Invermere, as the sustainability plan is often called.
Basically, were out here coming back to the community to talk about what we heard (during similar public consultation in the same location in June) and seeking more input, said district planner Rory Hromadnik.
Its been a great process. Participation from the community has been overwhelming. Its really good to see that level of public involvement, said Urban Systems senior planner Lauren Bartlette.
The week-long June consultation session attracted 250 people, she said, and the more recent consultation drew about 50 people on Thursday, September 18th. When The Pioneer talked to her mid-Friday, it was on pace for a similar number on Friday, September 19th.
Mr. Hromadnik said the planners had also consulted directly with Invermeres business community and with community members in Athalmer.
Several themes had become apparent from both the June consultation and the more recent consultation, according to Mr. Hromadnik, including accessibility issues, the identity of downtown Invermere, and the dispersal of businesses outside the districts boundaries (to the Crossroads area, for instance), community improvement initiatives, the lake, and having Athalmer serve as a gateway to Invermere.
Weve definitely heard people voice strong support for community enhancement initiatives, such as Pothole Park or the downtown beautification projects, said Mr. Hromadnik. At the same time, were also hearing concerns about keeping accessibility the walkability, bike-ability and connectivity of the community in the forefront of our minds.
Several people have suggested that although the district is not bad when it comes to accessibility, theres still more that needs to be done, he added.
Theres an understanding that the downtown is quaint and has its own appeal, but theres also an understanding that we need to keep development efforts there moving along, said Mr. Hromadnik, speaking about the issue of downtown identity.
Another theme frequently mentioned was Lake Windermere, according to Mr. Hromadnik.
The lake is the reason Invermere is here. People want to make sure we protect it. Weve had a number of comments around improving accessibility of the lake. I would agree theres a lack of it. Theres just not a lot of spots available because of the rail tracks (which run along much of the lakeshore within the districts boundaries), he said.
The planners debriefed council on their public consultation sessions on Friday, September 19th and were then spending the rest of September putting together a draft of the official community plan update, said Mr. Hromadnik, with the hopes of having the draft go to council for initial reading sometime in October and then adopted later this year.