Strategic planning process draws little participation

NANAIMO – City hopeful next round of workshops will attract more participation.

An expensive strategic planning process designed to include public participation suffered low turnout during the first round of workshops last week.

Nanaimo’s new Strategic Planning Steering Committee, tasked with collecting diverse perspectives and ideas to help shape the city’s future, saw 143 people attend three workshops.

Coun. Jim Kipp, the committee’s chairman, said 88 people attended the March 13 workshop at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, 45 attended at Oliver Woods Community Centre March 15, and 10 people showed up at Moose Hall for a south Nanaimo workshop on March 14.

“It would be good to have 1,000 people at least provide input into these things, but, of course, we’re below that right now,” said Kipp. “I wish for more people but at the same time you never know how many people you can get involved. Sometimes it just doesn’t suit people’s schedules.”

Kipp added that some of the topics discussed included water and watershed issues, but many people were interested in waterfront development along Stewart Avenue and the potential for an extended waterfront walkway.

Council approved spending $100,000 to hire Rethink West, a Ladysmith-based consultant, to help with the project, plus an additional $21,400 for facility rentals.

The initiative is called Your Voice, Our Nanaimo, and will serve as a document to complement other existing planning documents such as planNanaimo, the city’s Official Community Plan.

Kipp said he is hopeful that the next round of workshops will attract more input and participation.

The process resumes Tuesday (March 27) at Oliver Woods Community Centre where community groups will be invited to attend a workshop from 7-9 p.m. Groups are encouraged to register using the e-mail with ‘community groups’ in the subject line.

The business sector workshop is scheduled at the Dorchester Hotel Wednesday (March 28) from 6:30-9:30 p.m.; teens and students are invited to participate March 29 from 4-6:30 p.m. at Wellington Secondary School; seniors can take part March 31 from 10 a.m. to noon at Oliver Woods Community Centre; and a final wrap-up community forum is scheduled at the Coast Bastion Inn June 6 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

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