Planning for the future in a community, but especially a jurisdiction that is growing quickly, is a difficult challenge.
As the City of Colwood moves forward with its transportation master plan, we give both kudos for the staffers who worked on it, but also caution the City against moving too fast on implementing the plan.
One of the most challenging situations for Colwood planners is to deal with rapid growth and the gradual change from a more rural scenario to one featuring more urban settings.
They’ve had to envision where the various residential neighbourhoods and commercial ‘nodes’ fit into the big picture of the Capital Region, as well as the role they play within the City itself, which is really the only area for which staff and council members have any direct say.
Creating walkable neighbourhoods and village areas is something that neighbouring municipalities Langford and View Royal have been actively working on and have enjoyed success with in recent years. We sense that Colwood wants to emulate that style to a degree and is working toward achieving that standard.
Where another challenge comes is in ensuring that residents of areas targeted for change and civic “improvement” are engaged in the process of designing that change.
From open house meetings where residents are encouraged to write down their hopes and visions for their neighbourhood and city, to online surveys and other methods that embrace technology, it’s important to include people from all walks of life in the planning. Especially those people who might not be inclined to set foot in the municipal hall.
We like the fact that transit, and making it easier for more people to ride the bus, figures heavily in Colwood’s plans.
West Shore communities contribute the most to traffic congestion on the Trans-Canada Highway and each of our five municipalities must do what they can to help reduce that, not simply as a way to ease commuters’ daily trips into Victoria, but to help shape the long-term transportation patterns of current and subsequent generations of residents.
We hope that Colwood residents come out in large numbers to the public events the City expects to host over the coming months relating to these topics.
Residents who care enough to contribute to the “feel” and health of their neighbourhoods and cities, both for the near- and longer-term future, are one of the best resources to draw on for planners and civic politicians.