Otter Point residents get a say on their future

Otter Point residents will have a chance to have their say on what they see as the most important aspects of their community.

Otter Point residents will have a chance to have their say on what they see as the most important aspects of their community.

The future of the area in regard to; sense of place and community character; parks, trails and transportation and the fate of the natural environment and habitat, all come under review at a public event on Saturday, Feb. 12. From 1 to 4 p.m. small groups will discuss the issues that matter and then come up with a list to present to the Official Community Plan Review Committee.

“The committee has been looking, for the last month, at what are the most important themes in the community; what we want to protect; and what we want to put into the OCP. We have the outline but we need to go bigger,” said Arnie Campbell, chair of the review committee.

He said the committee is looking to get as many people as possible to contribute to the new OCP.

HB Lanarc, a consulting company, has been hired by the CRD to steer the process. They will look at getting the most out of the limited amount of time.

Otter Point has obtained $100,000 for the review and Campbell says it is likely a one-time opportunity. The grant money comes from the federal gas tax rebate. The money will be used for work such as inventories and mapping.

Lanarc’s David Reid said they have identified about half-a-dozen items which need to be in the OCP which range from drinking water and infrastructure to support for agriculture and aquaculture. He also mentioned growth and the need to know how much is too much, how fast and where?

Campbell said one of the most important things the committee found out is that they cannot assume, it’s up to the residents to get involved and help shape the future.

Reid said they put together youth engagements and he was surprised at the active involvement of the Otter Point students attending Journey Middle School and Edward Milne Community School.

“They were quite keen to be actively engaged in this,” said Reid. “We are encouraged by that.”

Campbell said he was surprised at how many school-age children were living in the area. Previously he said he saw the Otter Point area as one with an older age group but found the norm was much younger.

“It gives you a snapshot of your community,” said Campbell. “We sincerely want public input.” He said that previously there were a lot of misunderstandings. Specific bylaws in the previous OCPs for the Juan de Fuca were overturned as the court found the voting structure inappropriate which brought into question the other bylaws.

Small work groups at the February 12 forum will basically be people talking to one another and reporting what the group comes up with.

Otter Point is taking the lead on OCP reviews in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and what they accomplish could well serve as a template for the other districts of East Sooke, Shirley and Jordan River.

The Otter Point OCP Review Committee is made up of 11 members appointed by the electoral area director Mike Hicks, and includes representatives from TimberWest, Canadian Horizons, as well as environmental and business interests.

Otter Point is a significant rural area spanning over 8,400 acres bordered by Sooke and Shirley.