This weekend saw the kick off public consultation of the process of developing a new Official Community Plan for the City of Victoria with a forum at the Crystal Garden. As I posted earlier, I had some reservations with the process.
The public consultation process is short, it is to be completed by the end of June. July through October the plan will be drafted by the City staff and then the draft plan will be available for review with the intent of passing the OCP in January of 2011.
I am concerned that the process is not doing an effective engagement with the public. The public is being asked for pie in the sky ideas early on in the process. The lack of any real parameters in the OCP process means the public are raising issues far beyond what is possible to be considered within the OCP. A lot of public energy is wasted if people focus on things the City can do nothing about.
I am trying to figure out if the idea of Community Circles will be a functional process to get useful public input. Who will actually organize these groups? Will the public be proactive? The workbook that goes along with the Community Circles is thin on details. I am not sure that much will come out of these groups.
The time frame for the process is short in my opinion for getting the input from the public. I am not getting the feeling that the process is going to get the input from the wide range of the public that is needed to ensure that the OCP will be a reflection of the public vision of the city.
My approach to the whole process will be to develop concrete commentaries and specific visions for the OCP. I will be posting bits and pieces of this work over the next few weeks, I am hoping this will help stimulate debate.
The OCP will set the tone for the City for the next generation. For anyone not to put significant input into this process would be a mistake as where you live is crucial to each person's economic and social well being.