This time around, I would like to talk a little bit about community engagement. You may have seen some articles in the paper lately regarding a proposed RV development within the Village of Canal Flats. This application sparked a huge reaction from the residents, which included a 300-plus signature petition and a large number of letters.
In the end, the applicant withdrew his application and the project will not go forward. Regardless of what side of the issue people were on and regardless how council would have voted, I was impressed with the involvement of the community. We received so much feedback that, during a recent planning meeting, council decided to start working on a campground/RV bylaw to implement some of the suggestions that were made and to help us make our decision a little easier should another similar application come forward. This will also help any potential developer who will know from the start what is expected in the Village of Canal Flats. One message that kept repeating itself during this application process was that nothing should change; everything should stay as it is. If that means that we should stay a small village where everyone knows each other and looks out for each other, I hope that is what happens.
However, I would like people to think about this: that in order to survive and keep our village running without putting too much pressure on the taxpayers, change is unavoidable. We need change, but change does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. If we are smart about it, we can keep our small town atmosphere and still achieve economic growth. It is my hope that the community keeps this in mind when we ask for input in upcoming surveys, open houses, etc. In the meantime, council is still working on our planning process, which will, among other things look at the OCP (Official Community Plan), zoning bylaws, etc. We hope to see a lot of public engagement and participation during that process as well.
Ute Juras is the mayor of Canal Flats and can be reached at 250-489-9070 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.