By amending the OCP to target smart growth in desired areas, the City can encourage a variety residential development forms, reduce the end costs and reduce the uncertainty relative to lengthy approval periods. The OCP also establishes the framework for other supporting bylaws amendments and thus can initiate changes that further support smart development.
As many residents are aware, impacts of climate change such as extreme heat, flooding and increased forest fire impacts have already occurred. It is therefore urgent to implement actions that address these known occurrences. Availability and number of cooling centers needs to be increased by reaching out to public venues in all areas of the city for their participation and not rely only on City and RDNO facilities. Potential flood mapping has been completed and now works need to be budgeted for to minimize possible impacts in those areas. It is important to continue the identified actions in the Climate Action Plan to reduce the City’s impacts and continued budgeting to actively reduce the impacts must be part of every annual budget.
Extreme heat and air quality directly impact residents. Previous flooding has impacted properties as well as private and public infrastructure. More frequent and extreme events, resulting from climate change, pose even greater risks. Social and economic impacts of extreme events impact all residents thus taking proactive steps is critical. The City needs engage the community to provide more cooling centres in a wide variety of locations where possible. Works to reduce possible flooding need to be explored, prioritized and budgeted for.
Provision of more housing close to work and shopping is one way to reduce the reliance on private vehicles. Changes to the OCP and other supporting bylaws can encourage development of housing in the key areas. As electric and hybrid vehicles become available and more cost effective, it is important that the City integrate more of these vehicles as part of fleet upgrades. New public buildings should include solar systems and have heating and cooling systems that are not reliant on fossil fuels. Options to incentivize similar actions in the private sector need to be explored with them and discussed as part of all new development.
2.5 Small Lot Subdivisions – Changes to the zoning bylaw to enable small lots as part of subdivisions.
2.6 Infill Housing - Changes to the zoning bylaw to reduce application requirements to build various infill housing types.
2.9 Secondary Suites – Change the zoning bylaw to enable this with no added application costs.
3.6 Fast Track Rental Housing projects – These as well as multi family projects near work or shopping, should be give priority and expedited where possible.
4.2 Parking – amend the zoning bylaw to reduce parking required based on proximity to work, school, and shopping. All but one (3.6) would be part of amendments to the zoning bylaw.
3.6 could be carried out by policy. The zoning bylaw would typically be amended after the OCP is updated but these issues are important and stand-alone items that should not wait to be implemented.
I have been part of meetings between the City and the North Okanagan Indian Band as part of my role with the City. It is important to continue to involve and participate with the Band to ensure the community as a whole moves forward to address issues common to us all.
The Council position appears to be the first step in addressing racism. The new Council should review the racism policy that was drafted and consider if it could be adopted or would need amendments to ensure it is inclusive and appropriate.
Closing a section of main street to vehicles in the summer provides an opportunity and venue for art, culture and heritage education and displays. Coordinating this with the various groups and establishing guidelines for this would ensure that all have an equal opportunity for the public to experience.
The Greater Vernon Cultural Plan was a product of community input and thus represents the community’s interests and expectations. Vernon’s culture is a key reason why people want to stay here and continue to move here. The plan states that the majority of action items are to be led by RDNO. As a significant partner in the RDNO it is important that City representatives support actions that align with Vernon resident’s interests. As Vernon grows it is critical that the culture which makes this a greater place to live is nurtured and expanded to meet future demands.
I enjoy the heritage of the city and surrounding areas. The many areas of the Grey Canal are great walking and provide educational opportunities for the younger generation. The historic buildings and murals displaying our heritage are a source of pride.
A steady growth of residents increases our customer base and provides more opportunities for new businesses and existing business to expand. It is important to encourage all forms of residential development, especially affordable housing opportunities and those close to work and shopping centers.
It is important to reach out to the business community and understand each businesses needs. Successful strategies adopted by some to resolve these issues could be shared or tweaked to suit other businesses. Encouraging residential growth targeted at work force needs is one other way to expand the workforce available.
It is important that the City takes a holistic approach to attracting new business as these types of business look at all factors. There are many aspects of the area that are exceedingly attractive to new business and while the City needs to promote those, we also need to understand and improve aspects that may deter this type of growth. As an example, the high price of housing in the area, compared to other similar communities has always been a struggle here. Available land for new development is also an issue in the City. The City needs to continue to work with our neighbouring communities which have the form of land and services not available in the City.
It is important to continue to meet with members of the business community to understand their hardships and explore opportunities where action by the City could resolve some issues. Expanding the beautification works out from the City center to create a larger pedestrian friendly area would promote increased foot and tourist traffic to those local businesses.
It is important that the City work with the Province and Health Unit to ensure the health needs of our community are addressed. Known impacts of climate change specific to our community need to be recognized and addressed proactively.
The City has always been supportive of non-profit organizations that deal with a multitude of issues. The City needs to continue this support and work with the Province to address areas of concern as they arise.
The City, as a partner in the RDNO needs to work with other members of RDNO to maintain existing facilities, upgrade them as necessary and plan for the future. Provision of new programs that address the public’s expectations needs to be encouraged. Examining the costs to operate and maintain existing facilities needs to continue with an eye towards how to continue to provide services that the public can afford. Planning for major expenses to existing facilities needs to be included in the City’s annual budget so that it can be spread out where possible. New facilities that meet growing public needs for now and into the future need to have extensive public engagement to ensure everyone is aware of options, impacts and costs.