Whistlerites are being invited to participate in processes to revisit our shared ‘Community Vision’ for Whistler’s future and the Official Community Plan (OCP). Revisions of these two key community policies are being talked about collectively, but as policies their remits are different. This blog highlights our understanding of the community engagement process on these policies.
As we see pressures increase around issues like community growth, housing, recreation impacts, tourism, wild fires, transportation and more, we spend much of our time and energy trying to address the issues of the day (separately). As we revisit the Community Vision we are being asked to take a look at the big picture and think about what we want our community to look like in 10-20 years.
The process for revisiting the ‘Vision’ kicks off with a Community Forum (details below). If you only go to one community forum in the next 10 years make it this one!
Community Forum – focused on the Vision
Where: Whistler Conference Centre
When: March 5th
4-5:30pm – ‘drop-in’ time to input using posters and workbooks.
5:30pm – presentations, followed by more opportunities for input, questions and discussion.
Food and child-minding provided from 5:30pm onwards.
RSVP to the RMOW via their website.
So what is the difference between a ‘Vision’ and an ‘Official Community Plan’?
Community Vision – A vision articulates the long-term vision for the community. It reflects a community’s values and highlights local priorities. It takes the big picture view into the future and sets direction for the next 10-20 years.
Official Community Plan – Under the Local Government Act section 875, an Official Community Plan (OCP) is a statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management. An OCP must include statements and maps presenting the communities objectives and development intentions for the various land use zones. OCP’s are intended to be revised every 5 years.
Provincial guidelines encourage local governments to “consider how the OCP can be integrated with other community strategies, such as transportation plans, sustainability plans, and waste management plans. This recognizes that approaching planning and development in an integrated way supports coordinated efforts”.
OCP’s must include a regional context statement and for Whistler this will tie in to the Regional Growth Strategy for the Squamish Lillooet Regional District. This reflects that land use, economic development and other issues cross municipal boundaries which is true for our increasingly inter-connected Sea-to-Sky communities.
Whistler’s Existing ‘Vision’ Policy:
In 2005, Whistler adopted the current community vision for a shared journey ‘moving towards a sustainable future’ called Whistler 2020. Development of this vision engaged 100’s of Whistlerites, creating space for open dialogue around local issues and creating ‘task forces’ to delve deeper into the issues and identify solutions.
The W2020 Vision identified 16 ‘strategy’ areas, identified as the foundations to safeguarding a healthy and vibrant society, economy and environment for Whistler. Under each strategy, guiding principles were developed to ensure community actions worked towards common goals. The community engagement processes periodically brought people back together en-mass to share lessons learned and explore the interconnections of the issues. At a later date a ‘Food’ strategy was also added.
All of these themes remain relevant today, so reviewing the existing ‘Vision’ for the community is a great way to prepare for the forum on March 5th (link to document at end of article).
Figure 1: Whistler 2020’s 16 Strategy Areas:
Whistler 2020’s strength was that it engaged people from throughout the community who could create change – business leaders, community champions, NGO’s, knowledge specialists, and those on the front-line for changing the status quo. The process inspired people throughout the community and engaged them over the long-term.
Today the W2020 Vision is referred to as Whistler’s highest level policy document meaning that all other policies (including the Official Community Plan) should work toward achieving the Vision.
Community Input Process:
The timescales for public input on these two community policies are tight, possibly due to Municipal Council & Staff seeking to move through these processes prior to local elections in the Fall. However, we are not starting from scratch here – there was an extensive engagement process within the community in drafting the 2011 ‘unofficial’ OCP and this draft is the starting point for the current revision process. As mentioned – for the Vision it seems many of the principles laid out are still relevant to this day and potentially into the future.
The ‘Vision’ community forum on March 5th will be followed by the opportunity to for people to give feedback through workbooks and online. This means if you can’t make the forum you can still have your say – but remember – If you only go to one community forum in the next 10 years make it this one!
Our understanding is that a second community forum focused on the OCP is then expected in April/May, again with opportunities for feedback online.
AWARE has been invited to give an overview on expected trends from the environmental perspective at the community forum focused on the Vision, providing long-term context to support discussions through the evening. We will be sending out details on all the opportunities to input in our monthly e-news, so make sure you are signed up (see sign up at bottom of this page).
- Whistler 2020– Our existing Vision policy
- W2020 DOS Composite – A summary of the W2020 Descriptions of Success for all 16 strategies
- Whistlers 2011 OCP – The ‘unofficial’ OCP that was not ratified and that is being revisited to bring it up to date. (Link to associated Schedules – i.e. the maps)
- Whistlers Current OCP – The OCP which currently guides planning and land use.