Village plan goes public

In an effort to get Fruitvale residents interested in its official community plan, council embraced social media and even has a Twitter account but has had difficulty making friends or attracting tweeters.

Fruitvale’s official community plan (OCP) is getting an overhaul from CTQ Consultants and village council and staff is encouraging all residents and community groups to attend an open house at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall Thursday.

“Information will be available and there are forums that people can sign up for dealing with four different topics . . . kind of a round-table discussion,” said Fruitvale Mayor Libby Nelson.

Starting at 4:30 p.m. residents can gather information and give feedback, followed by focus group sessions on economic development, heritage, arts, and culture, parks and recreation, and social issues.

The village created a website and Facebook page to spark discussion and hear opinions but since its launch in September it’s received little response.

“It doesn’t seem to be a particularly computer generated community here,” said administrator Lila Cresswell.

A recent study showed about 80 per cent readership of its newsletter but only 10 per cent of residents say they visited its website, she added.

“I know people use it but they may be using it to connect with friends but not for (political) groups.”

The OCP is a long-term plan for the community that provides direction for future bylaws, land use and servicing requirements, infrastructure needs, heritage conservation, social planning, the environment, economic development, sports, recreation and much more.

“Your participation is vital to help us keep Fruitvale a great place to live, work and play,” said Nelson.

But despite the village’s efforts at engaging the community, it has been challenging, says Cresswell.

“We have been literally picking up the phone and calling people. Seniors have been very forthcoming but sports groups, we really haven’t had any response from them at all yet.”

The public consultation process is important but the OCP can go ahead regardless of residents’ involvement.

“As long as you have consultation opportunities and yes there are a number of those but as the saying goes, ‘You can lead a horse to water but not make it drink.’”

Following the public consultation, council, staff and the consultants will produce a draft plan, followed by more public consultation before a final draft is sent to Victoria for approval.

To sign up for open house forum, review updates or link to the Village of Fruitvale Facebook page go to www.fruitvaleocpupdate.ca or call the village office.