The City of Duncan is looking for input from the public on its draft plan for the Cairnsmore neighbourhood.
The project to develop the Cairnsmore Sustainable Neighbourhood Plan, which began in 2018, is now in phase three and council decided at its meeting on June 1 to direct staff to seek public feedback on the draft plan through the city’s PlaceSpeak page, rather than the previously authorized in-person engagement process, largely due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Staff were also asked to explore other means to get the information about the plan to the public so it can be reviewed and commented on.
The feedback will be analyzed by staff and the consultant, Lanarc Consultants, to further refine the plan over the summer months, with the final plan expected to be presented to council for adoption in August or September.
Michelle Geneau, Duncan’s planning manager, said a draft of the plan was received in April, but a multitude of issues delayed the timeline, including the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a delay for staff review and refinement of the plan with the consultant.
“Staff propose to post the draft plan, along with explanatory information and excerpts of maps and other graphics from the plan, to the existing PlaceSpeak page,” Geneau said.
“The link to the PlaceSpeak page will also be posted on the city website and Facebook page. Surveys, polls and discussion topics will be utilized on PlaceSpeak to gather feedback. As well, the draft plan and background information will be available at City Hall and residents can contact staff to discuss the plan over the phone or arrange an in-person discussion.”
In June, 2018, Lanarc Consultants was awarded the contract to engage the community to develop a neighbourhood plan for the Cairnsmore area, and an information report was presented to council in May, 2019, with the phase-two community input summary and confirmation of phase three of the process.
Building on the information received to date, the draft plan includes a guiding vision and key directions for the neighbourhood, along with policies for potential development types and densities, and public infrastructure improvements to help attain the vision over time.
At Monday’s meeting, some council members asked if there were means to have more city residents participate in the public feedback on the draft plan.
Coun. Tom Duncan pointed out that approximately 12 per cent of the respondents to the call for feedback on the first two stages of the plan were from outside the city, and he’s concerned that staff and the consultant may become overloaded with information from people who reside elsewhere.
Coun. Jenni Capps said just three per cent of the responders to the call for feedback so far were renters, and asked if there was any way to increase the participation of that demographic in the city.
Coun. Carol Newington said she has spoken to a number of residents who feel they have been left out of the consultation process and asked how these people can be included.
Geneau said the city intends to get the word out on a number of ways, including by advertising on its website and placing signage in the neighbourhood.
“We have also done mail-outs in the past, and we could look into that,” she said.
Mayor Michelle Staples said residents could be invited to participate in a Zoom web conference where they could view a presentation about the draft plan, ask questions and provide feedback.
“That’s definitely a possibility,” Geneau said.