City enters “a watershed” as it ponders the UDB — Part 1

This week's public charettes that will help empower participating citizens mark a real "watershed time for the city," says Planner John Guenther. He and his assistant, Jessica Simpson, are hoping that the City's upcoming charette will engage the interest of the general public. It should. This is everyone's opportunity to have a say in what happens as the City works on creating a Unified Development Bylaw. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

This week’s public charettes that will help empower participating citizens mark a real “watershed time for the city,” says Planner John Guenther.

“Some of the design concepts will be presented and that will stimulate discussion,” he said. “We’ll also be fleshing out the concepts. People will be able to see the process. It will take a lot of planning ideas and hopefully by the end of the session citizens will feel comfortable with what the city could look like. It won’t answer every question but that’s all right. We want that flexibility.”

A charrette is any collaborative session in which a group drafts a solution to a design problem. In this case it will revolve about the proposed Unified Development Bylaw. The UDB will, if it passes, provide the City with a framework and guidelines for more environmentally-friendly and socially progressive development.

Guenther said the charettes will lead Revelstoke towards the Holy Grail of unification of land use and zoning. How successful the City will be
remains to be seen as many communities have tried to do this with varying degrees of success., The charette runs 7-8 pm today (Tuesday, June 8), at the Community Centre. The ideas and views people bring to the charette will be acted upon and rendered into drawings available for a community review on June 10 with a closing presentation on June 11.

Guenther hopes participants will use the charette to explore the kind of options that can make Revelstoke an even more liveable city than it is now. Should development in Southside be nudged in a direction that establishes a quasi-village atmosphere with a coffee shop and perhaps a different kind of small retail component near the supermarket? And what about Arrow Heights? Should it have a small retail component, too, so that residents don’t have to get in their cars and drive to get a litre of milk or a cup of coffee?

There are other issues, too, that can be discussed during the charette. Urban chicken raising and beekeeping are be two most recent trends in urban agriculture. The chickens are already here, albeit illegally because they are not permitted under the current zoning regs, and no one my yet be raising bees but if they’re doing it in Vancouver how long will it be before someone has a hive in Revelstoke?

All in all the charette and the Unified Development Bylaw it is focusing on should open up new possibilities for the future.

The UDB will give city planners — and local residents — more flexibility when it comes to planning and executing developments large and small.

To get a sense of the possibilities, I spoke with Ben Brown, one of the consultants who has come here for the charette.

Click here to read Part 2

Click here to find out more about the City of Revelstoke’s proposed Unified Development Bylaw