City plan flawed

Residents’ group builds its own OCP for Parksville

“When the city decided to revise the OCP we took a look at it and thought — why revise a flawed document?” – Parksville Resident’s Association’s Al Pastars.

The association decided to develop an alternative OCP, and Mayor Chris Burger says he takes “serious issue” with at least part of the document.

Pastars says his group is calling its document  the Unofficial Official Community Plan, and he handed a copy to city council last week.

PRA vice president and chair of their OCP committee, Pastars later explained to The NEWS that when the city’s OCP work started, “we thought we could do a bit of work and give it to the city to run with it, but we kept coming back to it being a bad, flawed document.”

The group set up a committee that ranged from 12 to 18 people who met every week for two years.

creating the extensive 32 page document meant as “a suggestion as to what could be included and/or take place in the plan portion of a ‘made in Parksville’ OCP,” according to the introduction.

Pastars says the document (available at http://arrowsmithwatersheds.org/links/unofficialOfficialPlan.pdf) is based on a citizen’s survey and public form in 2010, which the document states were the only venues where public input has been allowed in the city’s ongoing OCP update process.

“I take serious issue with (that) statement,” said mayor Chris Burger pointing to numerous public engagement initiatives including several surveys and public meetings.

“But there are some good suggestions in there and I think you’ll see some of that reflected in the OCP,” he added, joking that he agrees with 51 per cent of it.

“OCPs are always about compromise, at the end of the day you have to come to a balanced plan.”

The Unofficial OCP specifically leaves out development interests, stating on the cover that “they already have substantial input into the OCP. The residents do not.”

“The current OCP is all about development, that seems to be the main thrust, the environment gets short shrift,” said Sam Cosco, the original chair of the PRA’s OCP committee who quit when he was appointed to the city’s OCP citizen advisory committee.

“Development land has building inspectors, electrical inspectors, plumbing inspectors, what is there for the environment?” he continued.

Pastars said the OCP should be exclusively developed by the residents, “If the plan is owned by the people, the people will support it, if it’s foisted on us, the people will not support it.”

“The biggest problem with the current OCP is there’s no planning, we’re just reacting rather than planning,” he said of the city’s admittedly overworked planning department in recent years.

The PRA is planning a series town hall style meetings to discuss the differences in their OCP and the city’s once the official document is released, expected around the end of the year.

 

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