The City of Colwood is moving forward with updating its Official Community Plan (OCP), despite concerns from some in the community.
“We’re still collecting information, there’s still information that’s coming in that will be put into the next draft,” Mayor Carol Hamilton said during Monday’s council meeting.
“I don’t see this as a closed door for opportunity for any member from the community from whatever stakeholder group they arise from being able to engage and participate at this point.”
The decision comes after a motion was put forward by Coun. Rob Martin earlier this week. The motion was to instruct staff to work with the Colwood Community Stakeholders Association, a group consisting of more than 50 developers, stakeholders, residents and professionals, to come up with answers to issues that were raised at a special committee of the whole meeting in March. That motion was defeated.
While some councillors were in favour of working with the group to review the OCP, others expressed concerns with giving the association “special” input.
“I can’t help but feel the underpinning in the discussion is to dismiss the feedback that the largest stakeholders, being the 1,600 plus residents, put forward,” said Coun. Gordie Logan. “That part I have a real issue with. I’m loathe to treat one stakeholder better than the other.”
Updates to the community plan have been in the works since October 2016. Over an eight-month period, more than 1,400 residents and stakeholders shared ideas about their vision for Colwood over the next two decades.
However, in recent months, the association has brought forward concerns, saying the plan could come with a number of unintended consequences including financial implications and impact on housing affordability. The group also hired a third-party consultant to review the OCP who identified a number of issues.
Since expressing their concerns, the group feels the City has not worked collaboratively to address them.
Dave Saunders, a member of the group, said he was disappointed with council’s decision.
“I felt betrayed by my city … Citizens proposed a good vision, but within that vision you still have to do the work to make sure the OCP will work at the end of the day,” he said. “The bottom line is it’s going to affect housing affordability for our entire city, most importantly for our seniors and our youth.”
Saunders plans on compiling a detailed explanation on consequences that could come with the OCP, which he will present during the next council meeting.
“Someone needs to take leadership,” he said. “We have developers, we have business people, we have seniors that are a part of this group and we need to roll up our sleeves to work together [with council], not apart.”
The project is currently in its third phase, which includes reviewing and finalizing the plan. The draft OCP will go to council for second reading in the coming weeks, which will be followed by a public hearing. Public feedback is still being accepted and changes can still be made to the plan before final reading.