The City of Courtenay hosted an Ideas Fair Feb. 19 at the Filberg Centre to help update the Official Community Plan. Scott Stanfield photo

The City of Courtenay hosted an Ideas Fair Feb. 19 at the Filberg Centre to help update the Official Community Plan. Scott Stanfield photo

Public encouraged to contribute to Courtenay’s Official Community Plan

About 350 people attended the Feb. 19 Ideas Fair to help update Courtenay’s Official Community Plan, which will guide City business in the near future.

An OCP concerns land use and growth management. The policy document influences how people live, work, shop, play and move around a community.

Courtenay’s population is expected to exceed 30,000 people by 2031. Where will new residents live and work? How will new growth be serviced in a cost-effective and balanced way? How can Courtenay adapt to climate change impacts, and minimize its carbon footprint in the process?

The OCP is being reviewed with such questions in mind.

The document was last updated in 2005. Courtenay council has directed that the updated document considers climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“Transportation is both the largest challenge and the greatest opportunity,” Jennifer Fix of DIALOG said in a Feb. 18 presentation to council.

She said transportation accounts for 59 per cent of the 93,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted each year in Courtenay.

“The opportunity is that 85 per cent of those trips are taken by car, so there’s a real opportunity to get some of those trips out of the car and onto foot, onto bike and onto transit,” Fix said. “We know that in similar-size communities in B.C., about 75 per cent of those trips are taken by car.”

Victoria, she said, is down to 61 per cent.

“There’s room for improvement there,” Fix said, noting land use is the biggest determinant around transportation behaviour.

Besides work and school, grocery store visits are the number one trip generator. Roughly one in five Courtenay residents live within a 10-minute walk from a grocery store. Based on research, Fix said that most people will choose to drive if the walk exceeds 10 minutes.

City staff and consultants are working on establishing low carbon growth scenarios.

There’s still time to share ideas for the updated OCP. There will be an online survey coming out in March, and neighbourhood meetings later in the spring.

Stay informed by signing up for the e-newsletter at www.courtenay.ca/OCPupdate

A draft OCP is expected later this year. Council will consider the plan for adoption by early 2021.