Ashcroft residents will get to have a say in the Village’s future, via a community workshop, a community open house, and one-on-one meetings with consultants from November 27 to 30 that will look at Ashcroft’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning bylaw, both of which are being reviewed by council.
“The OCP is a plan developed by the community and adopted by council that addresses how the community will develop over the next 20 years,” explains Dylan Houlihan, a community planner with Urban Systems who has been working with staff and council on the review process. “That’s why we need as many people as possible involved in developing it. It’s developed by the community, for the community.”
The Village’s current OCP was adopted in 2005, and there have been significant changes to Ashcroft’s population and economic landscape since then. “The current OCP largely focuses on land use, but there needs to be a different focus, as there might not be significant land development in the future,” says Houlihan.
“Instead, we need to look at the needs of an aging population, as well how to keep schools and businesses open, to have a thriving community. The OCP is an important document for a community, for working with other government agencies and with businesses.”
The zoning bylaw is a regulatory tool which allows the Village to implement the OCP. It addresses a variety of issues, such as site layout, permitted uses for new development, maximum height of new buildings, and how much development should be allowed in certain areas.
“It’s not that things are broken with the current zoning bylaw, but there have been changes to best practices since it was implemented,” says Houlihan. “Twelve to 13 years is a bit of a gap, and it’s important to have fresh documents. It’s good for developers and businesses to have new documents to work with, otherwise it slows things down. It makes the process more user friendly while still upholding the values and goals of the community.”
The consultation process from November 27 to 30 will allow residents to provide feedback about what their vision is for the future of Ashcroft. “What does Ashcroft look like in 10 or 20 years?” asks Houlihan. In order to allow residents an opportunity to have their say, consultants will be at the Ashcroft HUB from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from November 27 to 29 and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on November 30, giving people the opportunity for one-on-one meetings to have their say.
Houlihan says he is very excited about being at the HUB. “We dropped into the HUB on our last visit. There were a lot of younger parents there, waiting to pick up their children from dance class. We really want to reach out to that segment of the population, who weren’t as well represented in the surveys [that the Village sent out].
“We’ll also be going to the arena, and we want to talk to the Parent Advisory Council and Desert Sands students. We’ll go to where people are. We’re particularly targeting the younger demographic. They’re not heard from as much, but they’re vitally important. These are the people who keep the schools open, start businesses, and contribute to the vibrancy of the community.”
There will also be a community workshop at the Ashcroft Community Hall from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on November 28 where residents can provide feedback. On November 30 all the feedback will be collated, and some very draft policies will be presented at an open house at the community hall from 7 to 9 p.m. on the 30th. “It’s a chance for us to find out if we heard people right, if we got this right,” says Houlihan.
“There are multiple opportunities for people to get in touch with us, and we’re looking for ideas. We have no preconceived notions of what should happen. It’s a big ask for people to give up two nights, but we want to hear from them.”