Over five months into the process, several major themes have been identified as part of Colwood’s Making Waves project, which aims to engage the public prior to an expected fall 2017 update of the municipality’s Official Community Plan.
Representatives from Dialog Design, the City’s consultant team, presented their findings to council at a recent meeting and outlined the broader emerging themes that have been gathered from the public through an online survey, engagement events like the Big Ideas Fair and idea boards placed at community gathering places.
Overwhelmingly, residents have identified the Colwood Corners area as the community’s current heart, but the commercial stretch has also been tabbed as one that needs help.
“It’s a place that people want to care about and they want it to be better than it is and they believe it can be,” said Jennifer Fix, Dialog associate for planning and urban design.
Royal Bay, which was identified as an area full of opportunity, joined Colwood Corners as a place residents see as the heart of the municipality in the future.
Conversely, the soul of the community was identified as the waterfront, and residents demonstrated their desire to see it protected as a natural space for recreation and enjoyment.
Making use of the city’s streets for more than just transportation purposes was another theme that emerged.
“People really want to have a different experience in your streets … one (parent) talked about her desire to go to Colwood Corners for the day. Go there with her kid, sit in a sidewalk cafe, have coffee with her friends while watching their children at a playground,” Fix shared.
This desire is similar to another theme that saw residents lamenting a lack of gathering spaces in the community, and villages were seen as preferable to commercial areas with large amounts of surface parking.
Coun. Rob Martin was curious about this result.
“They’re looking for pedestrian-focused village centres, but they don’t want commercial clusters with internal parking lots … obviously we would all love to have a city centre where you can just walk and (it’s) pedestrian-friendly, but I’m just wondering (how) people expected to get there?” he asked.
Fix noted that people want to see more destinations within walking distance of home, including smaller neighbourhood nodes.
“It’s kind of counter-intuitive, but street parking is actually a good thing for a pedestrian experience because it creates an extra buffer from the road. And typically, it provides a little bit more friction for drivers so they tend to drive a little bit slower when there is street parking,” she added.
Participants in the survey also demonstrated concern about transportation, expressing a strong desire to have the municipality become more pedestrian and bike-friendly and seeking improved public transportation networks.
The Making Waves project is now in phase two, which is slated to run until April and involves the development of a draft plan based on community input, best practices and ecological, social and financial needs.