Cowichan Tribes transportation plan wins rare national award

A plan to improve transportation in Cowichan Tribes communities has won a prestigious award from the Canadian Institute of Planners.

A plan to improve transportation in Cowichan Tribes communities has won a prestigious award from the Canadian Institute of Planners.

The Award for Planning Excellence is the highest award an urban-planning project can receive in Canada, and only three others were recognized by the CIP this year out of 55 submissions.

The awards recognize excellence in urban planning in terms of innovation, impact on the profession, implementation potential of the project and overall presentation.

The Cowichan Tribes Community Transportation and Mobility Plan, which was developed by EcoPlan International and the First Nation, won in the category of Aboriginal Community Planning and Development.

The plan began after street safety was recognized as a key concern for the community.

The development of the plan focused on implementation planning as a response to the complex, multi-jurisdictional environment of developing infrastructure on and near reserve land.

This involved early and ongoing consultation with area-planning partners like the City of Duncan, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Municipality of North Cowichan, the province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Insurance Company of B.C.

The focus has proven very successful and, as part of a partnership with ICBC, there have been more than 40 safety improvements to 35 intersections across reserve land in the first three months of the plan’s completion.

The project has also resulted in major improvements to individual and institutional planning capacity at Cowichan Tribes, as well as deeper relationships with area neighbours.

“The incredible success of this Transportation and Mobility Plan, in spite of obstacles, provides a much-needed example of how a strategic, feasibility-focused approach to planning can enable First Nations to build and leverage partnerships and address major challenges,” the CIP said in a statement.

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.