Necessary items such as future infrastructure capacity, green space, as well as the location of prospective areas of contamination are key to part of Wadena’s Official Community Plan, alongside the potential for urban and commercial development.
By Andy Labdon
Residents of Wadena will have the opportunity to voice their wants and needs to help create a vision for the future of Wadena.
The community-wide meeting scheduled for Dec. 1 is part of the process in developing an Official Community Plan (OCP), according to Isla Kiland, the town’s director of community and economic development.
Under the Planning and Development Act 2007 the OCP “must be prepared in consultation with a professional community planner as licensed under the Community Planning Profession Act 2013.”
The professional community planner in this case is a company called Prairie Wild Consulting Co. (PWC), who will be on hand that evening to explain the process, facilitate and take questions.
Since August, PWC have been visiting Wadena gathering information, such as the town’s history, current layout with regard to utility infrastructure, roads, bylaws and zoning.
“The OCP should showcase the municipality, encouraging investors to invest, visitors to visit and non-residents to relocate,” states the province’s OCP guide. It is a written document to guide land-use management and development within the boundaries of the town of Wadena. Or, in simple terms, it’s similar to a business plan, and when approved, is equivalent to legislative policy. Bottom line is it provides a framework for development that opens the door to attract funding for projects.
This is exactly what Kiland is hoping it will provide as key areas, such as land use and development, public works, economic development, and parks, as well as mitigating hazards, are all part of the process.
“We are looking to attract business and development, starting with, for example, a hotel. The planning process allows us to develop that vision by addressing such things as potential locations, public works capacity for future growth, traffic flow and potential spin-off,” said Kiland, who is also chair of the Wadena Community Revitalization Committee (WCRC).
The community plan will provide policies to address such things as land that maybe subject to natural hazards, like flooding, or that are environmentally sensitive, such as potential sites of contamination that may effect development in the future. It will also help in identifying how future growth may impact on adjacent rural and urban municipalities.
The town’s infrastructure, roads and public works as well recreational facilities, and even its ability to handle emergencies will all come under the scrutiny. With high water levels currently encroaching, facilities such as the lagoon and water levels of the creek running through town, said Kiland, it is an opportunity to address those issues now.
The methodology of going through the process is to eventually create a plan for a sustainable town, said Kiland, that also attracts businesses, and families, which in turn helps to increase the tax base, leading to future improvements.
Once the process is complete, the goals and visions of the community will be on paper placing the population of Wadena all on the same page. It will also be the blueprint for future councils to follow. So, it is important for residents to attend, said Kiland, and have their say of what their town will look like in the future.
The 11-member steering community, including Kiland, who have all agreed to commit to developing the OCP over the next several months are: Mayor Greg Linnen, Councillor Dave Panasiuk, Ray Bourgeois, Florence Christianson, Maria Leach, Wanda Jones, Anne Sanderson, Juston Sowa, Sharon Rorquist and Alison Squires,
Implementation of the plan once approved by the province would begin in late 2017, early 2018, but its process would incremental over a period dependent on resources, like finances and availability of contractors.
“It’s the long-term plan of what the community wants for Wadena over the next 2o-plus years,” said Kiland. “This is everyone’s chance to be part of that process and contribute to the community they want Wadena to be.”