The BCSEA Kamloops Chapter held two consultation meetings concerning an update to Kamloops' Official Community Plan, called KAMPLAN. An official community plan is all about land use, with implications for transportation, housing, parks, and many other aspects of our lives. All of this relates to energy, of course. If your city is fairly dense with mixed-use neighbourhoods that include shops, schools and parks in addition to homes, you have the potential for people to walk or cycle near home. It's easier to build a good transit system in a city that doesn't have a lot of sprawl. So it's all interconnected.
The City of Kamloops is in the process of updating our official community plan, and they invited community groups to host "OCPizza" sessions to gather feedback on some draft options. In case you're wondering, the name comes from Official Community pizza!
BCSEA Kamloops held two of these session, on June 13th & 15th, with free pizza thanks to the City of Kamloops. I had gone to a training meeting earlier so I was able to facilitate both sessions. The groups were supposed to be small, no more than 12 people, to allow good discussion. We had 11 people at our first session and 8 at the second. Some of those came to both sessions!
Kamloops is expected to grow from our current 90,000 people to 120,000 in the next twenty years. So our first question was where will that added population go? We looked at two possible land use maps. One showed continued expansion of developed area to the southwest, with some increase in the city's core and other neighbourhoods. The second map proposed more population growth in the city's core and not so much in the southwest and other areas. The second leads to more density downtown and the possibility of an urban growth boundary. Attendees talked about which of these was the best fit with the City's draft vision and goals, and marked their preferences on a poster.
The next question focused on a topic area. In our case, the June 13th session looked at Transportation and Mobility, and the June 15th session looked at Land Use and Development. We went through some high-level draft policy statements and talked about how those fit with the vision and goals. Then we spent some time thinking and discussing actions that the City could take to reach the goals. That was the fun part and there were lots of ideas about transit improvements, bike and pedestrian paths, parking and how and where to build more housing.
All the feedback and notes were returned to the city planners and they'll be busy over the summer writing up the details of the draft plan. More consultation follows in the fall, and they hope to have the final version approved early in 2017.
This is not the first time BCSEA Kamloops has been involved with city plans, far from it. We've been advocating for sustainable energy solutions in our city for many years. Sometimes that means speaking to City Council with a request, for instance our request for a Community Energy and Emissions Plan last winter, or when we've spoken up in support of transit improvements. Other times there are opportunities to gather people together for consultation, like this and an earlier KAMPLAN meeting in the fall of 2014.
Have we had any success? I think we contributed to the fact that the earlier stage of public consultation on KAMPLAN pointed to a lot more interest in sustainability than ever before. There's lots of support for walkable, mixed-use neighbourhoods, greater density in the downtown, and reduced energy consumption and GHGs. As for our request for a Community Energy and Emissions Plan last winter, while the answer wasn't the "yes" we were hoping for, Mayor Peter Milobar and CAO David Trawin both said in the Council meeting that it would get started a year later, this winter. That will be exciting!
This is the kind of thing that a BCSEA regional chapter can do very well!