After more than a year and a half of public consultation and planning, there is a new Official Community Plan in the District of Kent.
The new plan was adopted at Monday night’s council meeting, with a few amendments that evolved from the final public hearing held on June 24 at the Friendship House.
The new OCP now does contain “stronger language in regards to the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge,” stated Darcey Kohuch, director of development services. Specifically, he said that the district would like to speak with the Ministry of Transportation about the possibility of a four lane bridge.
The new OCP states: “Considering that serious traffic accidents continue to occur on the Rosedale-Agassiz bridge, as well as lack of capacity and considerable safety concerns, the District shall continue to work with the province and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure so they may provide the necessary funding and a short and long term implementation plan” for bike and pedestrian lanes that are separate from vehicle lanes. It also mentions relocating the lights to safer locations and eventually replacing the entire bridge.
The new OCP also places more emphasis on the troubles along Rockwell Drive, in particular the need for that area to have an evacuation route. Many of the changes were a direct result of the latest consultations with the public, including the mention of a helipad potentially being placed at the breakwater along Rockwell Drive, to minimize the time patients are in transit after accidents in Sasquatch Park or along Rockwell Drive.
There was a change to map which incorrectly portrayed a trail, along with a handful of minor amendments and housekeeping changes.
“Some language had to be changed to be more accurate,” Kohuch said.
They also beefed up language that would support more home based businesses, and to allow for additional dwellings on ALR if a need is demonstrated,
Mayor John Van Laerhoven acknowledged the lengthy process of the OCP.
“It took well over a year and a half,” he said, calling it a “difficult process.”
“We need a plan that addresses the wishes of the community as a whole rather than individuals,” he added.
Councillor Duane Post noted that some of the concerns were not addressed, including the potential for growth in the Morrow Road area.
“I imagine it would be hard to look out the window one day and see a four story townhouse,” he said. “But there’s a balance between trying to grow and trying to save farmland.”
Councillor Holger Schwichtenberg agreed that the process was long, and many people participated, but lamented that not enough businesses participated.
“People were given ample opportunity to express their opinions,” he said. “One of the biggest disappointments I had was the response from local businesses.”
He said that while he’s sure the OCP won’t please everyone, there will be a chance to redo it all over again in the future.
An OCP is usually written every 10 years and makes plans for community development over the next 40 years.