Following the recent public hearing around the proposed development proximate to Metchosin and Painter roads, I have some suggestions and concerns with the process of community engagement.
This should interest all Colwood residents, as other neighbourhoods can and will face the same dilemma: How do councillors make decisions which balance the needs, rights and experience of existing residents with a desire to develop our community to a highest and best possible use condition? What is “best” and for whom?
I cannot point to a single change in perspective or design on the part of the land-use subcommittee, council or staff since I have been following the proceedings. A staff member and council member have each told me that they “like this sort of thing in their home neighbourhood.” Well good for you, but this is our neighbourhood.
On one occasion I attempted to convene public meetings where some real conversation could occur. My proposal was refused by all parties except local residents. Staff said they were legally restricted by municipal legislation and the B.C. Community Charter. Only two councillors actually met with residents and only one in a meaningful way. Is this truly the state of municipal democracy?
I think council needs to commence a review of the official community plan. In the process, community members need to participate; I am ashamed to say I only attended one charrette leading up to the promulgation of the current OCP. We need to invest in local democracy long before we are directly affected, positively or negatively.
I further invite councillors to state publicly their approach to development in Colwood. One year into your mandate is a great time to tell residents what you see and believe. Otherwise I can only assume that intensive development along Latoria, Wishart, Metchosin and Lagoon roads, among others, is the new norm and the only way forward.