Town halls, information sessions and the usual apparatus cities use to gather public opinion tend to be a little dull.
That’s something the City of Penticton is trying to change as it reviews and updates the Official Community Plan.
In November, they staged PenTalkton, a Pecha Kucha style presentation of issues related to city planning, and last week, they invited the community to ExpOCP, a three-day “expo” with bright graphics, rich content and hands-on activities, like a snakes and ladders game illustrating how trying to operate a successful business integrates with other sectors of the city.
Ben Johnson, the city’s special projects manager, was excited to see how many people turned out for the opening session last Thursday.
“We never quite know what to expect, but I guess we got the word out and people are excited to come and talk about the future of Penticton with us,” said Johnson. “We really want to be compelling, get people engaged, excited and interested.”
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit was at the event each of the three days and said he saw a good cross-section of the community turning out.
“Usually it’s a small handful of people that are eager and come out to these events, so we tried to make it fun and easy and interactive,” said Jakubeit, adding that one of the goals was to get people thinking about how planning issues affect each other.
“They were seeing how a lot of the different things like housing, how that intertwines with transportation and maybe jobs and the other things,” said Jakubeit. “I think it helped broaden peoples’ perspective so they weren’t just looking at one pillar of the community plan.
“I think it just made them start thinking a bit more holistically about the community as a whole, not just one sector.“
This is the first major review of Penticton’s OCP since 2002. Jakubeit said the information the city has been gathering will all be incorporated into the new version, which he describes as a “blueprint for all our growth, whether it’s housing, or economy, the environment, arts and culture, heritage.”
In 2002, planners were anticipating Penticton’s population would be at 45,000 and golf resorts would be one of the top industries by now.
“What you thought of as a plan 15 years ago has certainly changed. Technology has changed, everything has changed,” said Jakubeit.
Penticton is also trying to find synergy between the OCP review and the Smart Cities Challenge, which could bring a $10-million investment to the community to develop ideas around using data, innovation and connected technology to improve the quality of life in Penticton.
Watch shapeyourcitypenticton.ca for more information about future events as dates and activities are confirmed.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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