Environmental protection and region-wide housing and economic development strategies are priorities the RDN hopes to address in its latest strategic plan.
The Regional District of Nanaimo’s draft strategic plan for 2019-22, considered the highest level plan for the board, is a blueprint that guides decision-making and providing staff direction. RDN directors voted to seek public input for the 13-page document at their meeting Tuesday night.
Ian Thorpe, RDN board chairman said, when the board started the strategic planning process, it recognized the challenges of finding a balance between being too general and not being general enough, while still having some definite action plans attached. He was pleased with Urban Systems, the facilitator hired to offer assistance with the exercise.
“I think it’s a good document and I’m really pleased that it is going forward and the public will have a chance to comment on it, see if we really missed something important, or if there’s some tweaking that we can still do to it,” said Thorpe.
The plan “honours and protects RDN natural assets, respects its diverse communities and promotes and enhances well-being of all residents.” Better transit offering residents more efficient travel through the region is among the goals listed. This would include better dialogue with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation for “on- and off-road pedestrian and active transportation improvements.” Drafting a regional transportation plan that includes all means of travel, working with B.C. Transit for a transit hour expansion to connect to focal points in the community and creating a transportation system that connects regional districts in the central Vancouver Island area are other actions related to this.
The plan seeks to improve governance and raise awareness of the RDN and will see an examination of broadcasting board meetings over the internet, development of a communications strategy to strengthen public engagement and continued relationship building with First Nations based on needs of each community’s leaders.
Goals to become leaders in climate change adaptation and mitigation and protect the environment would see formation of a technical advisory committee dealing with strategies to address climate change, a strategy to reduce greenhouse gases, drafting of an electric car charging strategy for the region and updating a drinking water and watershed protection program action plan.
A goal seeks promotion of affordable housing and would include development of a housing strategy for the region. The provision of regional land use planning and responsible asset management for both physical infrastructure and natural assets in terms of growth management is another goal and seeks a comprehensive RDN regional growth strategy review.
Part of the plan seeks to enable diverse economic opportunities and would include development of a regional economic development strategy focusing on goals for the entire regional district.
The plan also aims to make the RDN a safe and vibrant place for everyone and includes preparation of a study which would identify a range of local social service providers and develop a strategy to determine the regional district’s role, if applicable.
The RDN hasn’t seen a high response rate when seeking public feedback in the past, and Thorpe said raising awareness of the regional district is one of his goals.
“I think there’s a lot of people that don’t really understand what services the regional district provides, especially in comparison to the City of Nanaimo, so I think we’ve got some educating to do,” said Thorpe. “That said, we’ve got a communications department that does put out a lot of good information and I think we just have to look at how we’re getting the word out and how we can improve on that.”
To view the draft plan, go to www.getinvolved.rdn.ca/8397/documents/14418.
A feedback survey will be open until April 18 and is accessible at www.getinvolved.rdn.ca/rdntalks-priorities.
RDN directors will receive a report on the consultation at their May 28 board meeting.