Nakusp residents will have the chance Thursday night to give feedback on the future of their village.
The consultants revising and updating the village’s Official Community Plan are holding a public house on their draft of the planning document.
“Basically it’s a visioning document that will help enable Nakusp to grow and change into the future,” says Julie Brache, a community planner with Calgary-based Brown and Associates.
A community plan is essentially a way for municipalities to develop longer-term plans for their community. It’s a statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land management.
Every municipality is required by the province to develop an OCP. Nakusp last updated its OCP 13 years ago.
“A lot has changed in the past 13 years and there’s a need to revamp the document based on these changes,” Brache says. “The last document was done very well, but we need to respond to current things, like accessory dwelling units, the need for housing, and emerging technology and how to attract people who are working independently, attract business, and what you need to do to your infrastructure to support that.”
Brown and Associates has spent the last few months developing the OCP, after meeting with village staff and holding open houses in October to gather public input on what the OCP should include.
“The open house will present some of the things we heard that developed from those sessions and some of the draft policies for the OCP,” says Brache.
The kinds of issues the consultants heard were important to residents of Nakusp included how to support a value-added manufacturing industry based on forestry.
“There have also been a lot of changes to the forestry industry since then, so it’s important to highlight,” notes Brache. “The OCP is looking at ways to help with that situation.”
The consultants will also talk about housing, an issue identified by the village and locals as a barrier to growth and development.
“One of the hottest topics we heard about was the need for affordable and accessible housing for people moving into the area,” says Brache. “A lot of the ideas we’ll be presenting are a direct response to that.”
The kinds of things the consultants looked at to address the housing issue include exploring what land is available that has potential for development, and what those developments could look like … ideas like laneway housing, infill housing, accessory dwelling units, and master plan community areas — areas where intensive housing developments could fit into the town’s landscape.
The consultant also heard from the public about concerns the village might be overly-focused on the downtown in recent years, and will present options for the public to where they would like to see the municipality’s money and energy directed.
Some ideas will also be presented on integrating tourism areas better with the village, and streamlining the development permit process to ease the development application process for people who want to invest and build in Nakusp.
“The last OCP had 12 development permit areas, which put additional regulations on how development should look and feel in particular areas,” she says. “We’re looking at trying to revamp those, not to restricting development from happening, but more enabling it and reducing development areas from 12 to two.”
“It’s simplifying it, but not making it too easy — just making it appropriate for the community.”
The consultants will also present some ideas for improving the gateways into town — the signage that welcomes visitors to the community.
“One thing we noticed when we visited was that there was no real gateway when you’re coming from Revelstoke, say, so we want to throw out ideas what that could look like, and design ideas for trail heads and what that would look like for the village,” she says.
Vision for Nakusp
And like all good plans, the OCP starts with a vision — and a slogan. The OCP suggests the village define itself as “Your holistic health and wellness community.”
Expanding on the idea, the OCP vision for Nakusp is of “a vibrant community with an identity grounded in holistic economic, social, and physical health and wellness.
“A sustainable and diverse economy exists in harmony with the natural environment,” the vision statement continues. “Residents are socially connected through community events supported through a network of community services. Physical health and wellness are bolstered by a tourism industry based on a well-connected cycling and pedestrian trails system, a focus on locally integrated food production and distribution, and the healing powers of the hot springs.”
The engagement session will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Nakusp Auditorium.