The Imagine Kelowna project asked the public what it wants Kelowna to look like in 2040. —Image: contributed

Kelowna city council endorses results of huge Imagine Kelowna project

The visioning exercise for Kelowna’s future was biggest public engagement project ever by the city

The results of community vision project, asking the public what it wants the City of Kelowna to look like in 20 years, has been endorsed by city council.

According to the city, Imagine Kelowna focuses the lens on a thriving future Kelowna.

“We can all agree we’re experiencing unprecedented change in our city,” said Mayor Colin Basran. “Kelowna citizens have made it clear that as we grow, we need to look out for one another and protect the stunning environment that sustains us. Our vision for an inclusive, welcoming, prosperous and sustainable future calls on us all to be ambitious and embrace the challenges ahead.”

Calling the project the biggest public engagement project ever undertaken by the city, Basran said the process took two years and collected responses from 4,000 individuals residents.

As a result of the information gathered, the city now plans to move onto the next phase, which it is calling Imagine Next, using the the vision, principles and goals of Imagine Kelowna to guide the development of future city plans and initiatives. That will include projects instream, such as the Official Community Plan update (Our Kelowna as we Grow) and the transportation master plan (Our Kelowna as we Move).

The Imagine Kelowna process began in May 2016. Highlights of the engagement included 40 community events throughout the city, thousands of online and paper submissions, more than 30 in-depth community interviews, 25 presentations to local organizations, 560 youth submissions, workshops with Westbank First Nation Youth Advisory Council and elders, and four themed co-sponsored on-point town halls.

“We heard from our community that Kelowna is an incredible place to call home,” said project manager Rafael Villarreal. “The goals of the long-term vision describe a welcoming community where lifestyle and economic opportunities are available to everyone. This means ensuring that everybody who lives here can make a living, find suitable housing, and get around easily and safely.”

With more than 4,000 resident contributions, he called it a vision created by the community, for the community.

“Imagine Kelowna cannot be achieved with local government as the only contributor to the community vision,” said Basran. “It also needs organizations, institutions, businesses, agencies and other levels of government to change the way we work together, how we make decisions, and how we engage with Kelowna residents. Ultimately, Imagine Kelowna is the community’s vision to ensure a vibrant and resilient future. It is up to all of us to imagine what’s next and help make Imagine Kelowna a reality.”

The last community vision was completed in 1992, setting the direction to protect agriculture, deliver an active transportation network, establish a cultural district and create town centres like Pandosy and Rutland, among other key initiatives.

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