Grand Forks’ Sustainable Community Plan nearing completion

The City of Grand Forks is nearing completion of its Sustainable Community Plan (SCP). Kelowna's Urban Systems prepared the SCP document.

The City of Grand Forks is nearing completion of its Sustainable Community Plan (SCP).

The SCP has been in the works since 2007, with the city doing extensive consultation with the residents of the community, and should be adopted as a bylaw by mid-September.

“It’s a community plan developed by the community,” explained Ben Wasenius, a community planner with Kelowna’s Urban Systems, a company that prepared the SCP document for the city.

“It’s two parts really; it’s (an SCP), which covers broad areas, anything from health to social to cultural, and the second part is the official community plan, which is actually a mandated document that the (province requires).”

Based on the consultation, the city has come to eight goals for sustainability:

Strengthening arts and culture, which includes building on the city’s existing cultural assets and the creation of a vibrant city centre. It also includes using the arts-based community development methods.

According to the report, one of the objectives would include the construction of a performing arts centre that would serve as a multi-purpose facility.

Strengthening sustainable economic development, including trying to attract industries that are sustainable, green infrastructure planning, thinking about incentives that promote economic development and trying to create partnerships between local suppliers and local retailers and those that aren’t locally-based.

Some of the specific proposals mentioned in the report regarding this are broadband access across the entire community and establishment of a community forest and a related advisory committee.

Ensuring that the natural environment is healthy by aiming for a future where there is little or no waste is also proposed.

And the SCP mentioned that one of the proposals in that regard was the creation of a local green-building code.

Promotion of a relationship where there is a constructive relationship between the government and the community – non-profits, schools, citizens and businesses working with the government to accomplish goals that are both sustainable and ones they have in common.

The plan proposed to promote fairness and equality with the developing of a Citizen’s Bill of Rights in relation to that.

Making the community more self-sufficient, such as increasing the making and using of food, materials and energy that are local so that Grand Forks doesn’t have to rely for such items from elsewhere.

One of the proposals suggested was the “100-mile diet” philosophy.

Develop a plan for sustainable land use – combining residential, institutional, commercial and industrial facilities, transportation and open spaces into a single plan, such as encouraging Grand Forks to lease, rather than sell city-owned land.

Improving the social fabric of the community was also one of the goals and one of the proposals included adding to the availability of medical services, especially when it comes to medical specialists.

Ensuring that health is taken into consideration when the city makes decisions. This would include the increasing of mental and physical health through increasing the community’s access to healthy good, physical activity and clean air and water.

One of the proposals to achieve that goal was educating residents, both young and old, about the benefits of eating healthy food, exercise and breathing and drinking clean air and water.

“The plan was funded by the gas tax, so it really doesn’t take anything from municipal property taxes or anything; it’s all provincial funding.”

First reading of the SCP was given at the regular city council meeting on Monday with second, third and final reading being given on July 18, Sept. 6 and Sept. 19 respectively – a public hearing will be held on Aug. 15.