Thursday August 28, 2014

EDITORIAL - Plan needs community attention


At the most recent regular meeting of Yorkton Council a major piece of legislation took another step toward being adopted in the city.

Council unanimously supported first reading which sets the process in motion to adopt the City’s new Community Plan.

“Planning Services in conjunction with Crosby Hanna & Associates has been working on a replacement statutory plan to Bylaw No. 15 for months a process mandated by the province which is requiring each community to have an up to date official community plan.

“Planning Services presented the document to the April 16, meeting of the Planning & Infrastructure Commission. The Commission recommended the document be forwarded to City Council for consideration of First Reading,” detailed a report circulated at the April 26 meeting.

In terms of a document “Our City: Our Future is a forward looking document. It provides direction to City Council, Council Committees as well as administration and others in the growth of our community. The purpose of this Plan is to, ‘provide a comprehensive policy framework to guide the physical, environmental, economic, social and cultural development of the municipality or any part of the municipality’,” detailed the report.

In many instances the new plan draws on elements from previous documents such as the City’s 2020 Plan which was created based on community input, and the City’s Master Traffic Plan.

However, once complete, the document will provide a foundation for development in Yorkton stretching out to 25-years, to 2036.

In visioning forward a quarter of century, Jim Walters, of Crosby Hanna and Associates said at a Chamber of Commerce meeting last September, they expect the city to double in population based on the current average annual growth rate.

Using a vision of near 40,000 residents, Walters said other aspects of the Community Plan start to fall into place, in particular the anticipated need for 6-8000 new housing units.

Walters told press after the presentation that meeting such growth will be a major undertaking.

“The biggest challenge is having the infrastructure in place,” he said, adding “there is a whole section in the report that deals with infrastructure.”

As a foundation document, many of the principles are general in nature. As an example Walters said there is a desire to have “an expandable economy”, and while elements of the Plan are associated with helping that occur, it is also flexible to allow future adaptation.

Through the creation process there have been opportunities for the community to input, study and review the Plan, and with First Reading passed, the next step will be to provide yet another chance through a public hearing to be held Monday, June 9.

Considering how far reaching the Community Plan is, it is something the residents should have a keen interest in, and so the response to the Public Meeting should be a full house.

This is an opportunity to have a direct voice in the process to creating an over-arching document which will be a guiding force for Councils as Yorkton grows into the future. We should all want to be part of that.



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