Editorial: Now’s your chance to have say on Lake Cowichan’s future

Don’t whine about it afterwards if you don’t take your opportunity now to have your say.

The renewal of the Lake Cowichan municipal hall is a project for the near future, as it is showing its age. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

The renewal of the Lake Cowichan municipal hall is a project for the near future, as it is showing its age. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Don’t whine about it afterwards if you don’t take your opportunity now to have your say.

The Town of Lake Cowichan is beginning the process of creating a new Official Community Plan, a document that guides what the town will look like in the years to come. It has implications for everything from the environment to whether an apartment building can go up on your street.

An OCP should reflect what the community wants their town to look like 10, 20 years down the road. Inevitably, not everyone will agree 100 per cent on every individual piece, but there should be a general feeling, when it’s done, that it represents the will of the citizens.

When an OCP fails to do this, it means trouble. Several B.C. communities are facing just this eventuality right now.

This occurs most often when a process hasn’t adequately involved community members is crafting the plan.

The Town of Lake Cowichan is doing everything in its power right from the start to avoid this. They are looking for 30 good people to sit on three key committees to help them draft the nuts and bolts of the plan. This will be a significant commitment for those who volunteer, but if people don’t, the risk their voices not being heard.

Of course if you don’t make the cut for the committees, or simply don’t have enough time to be able to commit to the endeavour that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Les Bowd, chairman of the Advisory Planning Commission assures us that public community meetings on various draft stages of the plan will be held throughout the process.

Is there something you don’t like in the current OCP? Now’s your chance to advocate for change.

Is something missing from the current OCP? Now’s your chance to have it included so the decades to come will take it into consideration.

All too often local governments advertise for public opinion on a variety of projects, but very few take them up on it until they run up against whatever decision has been made in their absence, then cry that they have not been consulted. Well here’s your chance to be consulted right from the beginning. We suggest that everyone who lives in the community try to attend at least one meeting about the new OCP, even better if you volunteer for a committee. The more voices the OCP represents, the better.