Penticton – The City of Penticton has been selected by the Planning Institute of British Columbia for Excellence in Planning Practice – Small Town & Rural Areas as a gold winner for its 2014 awards.
“Downtown Revitalization was chosen as a Council strategic priority because it had the potential to build on the community’s vision for vibrancy and economic opportunity. But before any work could begin, projects had to stem from a solid plan built on innovative community engagement,” said Penticton Mayor Garry Litke. “Receiving provincial recognition for Penticton’s Downtown Plan highlights the incredible amount of work put in by staff, committee members and the community to shape the future of Penticton’s commercial core.”
The Planning Institute of British Columbia annually recognizes the professional work and individual accomplishments of planners across British Columbia and the Yukon through its Excellence in Planning Practice Awards. Excellence in Policy Planning includes effective initiatives and solutions that enhance the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities. The areas of excellence may be in environmental planning, social planning, transportation planning, climate change, and public consultation to name a few.
The Small Town & Rural Areas category recognizes the efforts of planners in municipalities with populations under 80,000 or outside larger urban centres. Particular attention is paid to planners who turn policy into reality, whether it is crafting a new urban space, protecting industrial land, protecting the industrial land base, using community partnerships to secure funding for much needed projects, engaging the public with creative approaches or new directions in project management. Submissions in this category should highlight the inventive ways that planners are creating transformative change through ground-breaking actions.
The Downtown Plan was developed using comments and feedback received during an intensive year of public consultation sessions held throughout 2012. Residents, businesses and stakeholders were invited to visioning open houses, focus group sessions, a five-day design charrette, funding workshop and market displays, in addition to taking part in surveys, scavenger hunts, questionnaires and one-on-one conversations. Over 5,000 people were consulted during this process.
The Downtown Plan is composed of five sections, with the first two devoted to the planning process and an overview of the research conducted to support recommendations and establish achievable goals. The third section outlines the “layers” in Downtown Penticton, or elements that permeate throughout the area like green spaces, land uses, mobility networks and infrastructure. The fourth section gives an overview of May 21, 2014 Penticton’s character areas, or pockets that have a unique identity that should be nurtured and sustained. Many urban design elements are found in the character area section.
“The City condensed the planning process down to one year, which was an ambitious goal but extremely valuable in terms of getting to the heart of what the community wanted as a vision for their downtown,” said Anthony Haddad, Development Services Director. “Although many municipalities rely on consultants for the majority of the work, City staff completed this project in-house. We are honoured to be recognized, and thank the community for their participation in the planning process. Their input is what makes the Downtown Plan a success.”
The Downtown Plan’s fifth section is called “Making the Plan Real,” and identifies the 101 action items and step-by-step approach to implementing the plan and creating momentum for downtown revitalization. This section categorizes the short, medium and long-term priorities for the area, and lists policy changes that are required. The Martin-Westminster revitalization project, currently underway, was identified in the plan as a way of creating a western gateway into Downtown Penticton. Other projects have seen progress including finding a tenant for City-owned property on Ellis Street (FitKidz Gymnastics), offering free public wireless internet access (Shaw Go WiFi), Main Street consultation and Penticton Creek rehabilitation planning.
The Downtown Plan, process and information about the projects planned or underway are all available on the City’s website at www.penticton.ca/downtown.