Planner James Van Hemert brings the official community plan to council. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)

Planner James Van Hemert brings the official community plan to council. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)

VIDEO: Planner praises advisory committee as OCP hits Lake Cowichan council table

It’s taken time to get it done, but listening to the community’s concerns takes time

It’s been a long haul, but the new official community plan for the Town of Lake Cowichan has finally reached the council table.

On Tuesday, April 23, it was given first and second reading by council, before it goes out for further discussion.

James Van Hemert, town planner, said the plan reflects the community.

“That is what has occurred and has continued up until this date in addition to updating new legislation that we have to recognize, and updating demographic information about our population and who we are as people,” he said.

Then the planner praised the group that has marshalled getting the information into a document.

“I hope I don’t embarrass those members of the advisory planning commission that are right here but it has been absolutely delightful and inspirational to work with this group. Never have I worked with such an engaged, wise, and attentive group of advisory plannning members. I’ve worked with planning commissions and advisory groups throughout my career but this group has been exceptional. Their attention to detail as well as the big picture has been extraordinary. What you have before you is a plan that I think is of very high calibre simply because of their engagement. The way they also engaged the community in the working groups, the open house: I just want to let you know that, mayor and council.”

So far, members of the public have mentioned a few issues such as “air quality issues related to wood burning, increased tourist appeal, enhanced lake and river access, and putting more landmarks on the maps [in the OCP document itself],” he said.

Many of these ideas have already been addressed by the APC, “but not always in the way I expected,” Van Hemert said, urging council to study the plan carefully.

“Despite all the work we’ve done, you bring your own perspective to the table. It will become your bylaw. Get any comments to me or to Joe Fernandez [Town CAO] because it will be put together before third reading. There will be some changes. The fire hazard issue has been removed. We are working on that. We’ll include that later as an amendment.”