Region addresses growth

A big picture approach to planning in the South Okanagan has been adopted by the regional district.

A big picture approach to planning in the South Okanagan has been adopted by the regional district.

The 30-page Regional Growth Strategy document is in the initial stages of implementation and over the coming months and years the RDOS plans on engaging South Okanagan communities and rural areas to further implement the plan. The long-term planning project deals with growth management issues over a 20-year period.

“The RDOS is committed to the vision and the principles contained in the RGS,” said RDOS board chair Dan Ashton. “Monitoring key indicators allows us to measure our progress over the long term.”

Working for the past five years in a collaborative process with the public, First Nations, local, regional, provincial and federal governments, the Regional District of South Okanagan has developed the strategy. The RGS examines issues such as air quality, water quality and supply, economic development, housing, transportation, parks and natural areas and infrastructure planning. A progress report on the growth strategy is to be prepared annually, and at least every five years the RDOS is to consider reviewing the RGS for possible amendments.

“I think it is important because it is a guidance document for the future,” said Aston. “I think it is important that boards in the future dust that document off and have a look as things change.”

The growth strategy expresses a vision for the South Okanagan that is rooted in sustainability defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The document outlines current trends in the RDOS that are showing an increasing number of residents settling outside of urban areas. The document projects population growth in 2012 to be 90,640 people, jumping to 108,266 people by 2031. This gives more reason to why the strategy was created to protect the unique qualities of the South Okanagan.

Ashton said more and more regional districts are ending up with regional growth strategies, it is not a requirement but he said it is strongly recommended by the province.

The Regional Snapshot, Volume 1, 2008/2009, is now complete and ready for distribution. The Snapshot forms one part of the ongoing monitoring required as part of implementing the RGS. The document is available on the RDOS website (www.rdos.bc.ca) and hard copies are available at the RDOS Penticton office.