With speakers ranging from an artist to a historian, PenTALKton promises to be a very different approach to community engagement on the official community plan.
“It’s a very punchy format. You have 20 slides, and you leave 20 seconds per slide,” said Ben Johnson, special projects manager for the City of Penticton and the introductory speaker at PenTALKton, which takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Nov. 22.
Billed as 10 Big Ideas, 10 engaging stories, Johnson said the evening is designed to get people thinking about the challenges and opportunities facing Penticton as work progresses on the refresh of Penticton’s Official Community Plan.
“It’s a bit like the TED talks, where you can’t get a lot of information across and in a very visual way. We can really start sharing a lot of ideas,” said Johnson. “The notion is to start talking about a lot of big ideas that are pertinent to the OCP, plant some seeds in people’s minds, get them thinking about things as we roll into the next phase of OCP engagement in January.”
That’s when the city plans to start gathering information about resident values and aspirations in a number of different areas like affordable housing, transportation, the environment and more.
But first, Johnson said they want to get people thinking about what the OCP needs to cover, and doing it in creative and interesting ways. An OCP is a complex document and people may not have thought about how one area might affect another.
“How do we grow the city? If we are eating into our agricultural land, what are the impacts of that on our food systems?” asked Johnson. “It’s a matter of planting these seeds in people’s minds, different issues they can think about and start to think about how they relate to each other.
“We are going to be talking about things like affordable housing, smart community development and healthy cities. How do these different subjects relate to each other, how does a decision in one area affect outcomes in another area and so on?”
Besides Johnson introducing OCP concepts, PenTALKton also features artist Katie Brennan on arts and culture; Kristi Tatebe and Kristi Estergaard on food security; Bryn White of the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program on the environment, Anthony Haddad, director of development services, on the downtown plan; Gordon Lovegrove of UBC Okanagan on neighbourhood design, architect Chris Allen on green architecture; historian Randy Manuel; Linda Sanky from the Brain Injury Society (SOBIS) on affordable housing; Anita Ely of Interior Health on Healthy Cities; and the students of Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School with their Come and Listen video.
“We are getting a lot more engagement with people to really help people understand the key trade-offs that are being made, bring them on board and ultimately have them become champions of the plan at the end of the day,” said Johnson.