City Coun. Dalvir Nahal knows there’s a lot of reason for developers to want to invest in Vernon, but says the procedures need to be more streamlined and a clear vision of Vernon from mayor and council must align with the 2022 Official Community Plan. (File)

City Coun. Dalvir Nahal knows there’s a lot of reason for developers to want to invest in Vernon, but says the procedures need to be more streamlined and a clear vision of Vernon from mayor and council must align with the 2022 Official Community Plan. (File)

More say needed in Vernon’s future growth plan: Councillor

Proposed motion calls for more input from mayor and council in OCP talks; streamlined development procedures

A city councillor is looking to see more of this mayor and council’s vision for Vernon present in the amended Official Community Plan (OCP).

Coun. Dalvir Nahal says now is the time to start having discussions about the future of development as the OCP is set to be amended in 2023, so she is putting forward a notice of motion to council on March 22 asking this mayor and council be more involved in the planning process.

“This is not about us or the staff,” she said. “It’s about the public we are here to serve. It is about supporting one of the largest industries in our community, directly and indirectly, construction employs hundreds of people.”

Typically, Nahal said, city staff prepare the OCP and council approves it. But she said this doesn’t sit well with her.

“In the seven years that I’ve been on council, we’ve never really been asked what our vision is and whether or not the OCP aligns with that vision,” she said. “I have a fundamental problem with that.”

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Nahal said the city needs to work with builders and developers to streamline processes, whether that’s preemptively rezoning parcels or amending bylaws relating to density and height.

“We have a moral obligation to ensure that our citizens find a safe and affordable place to live and in my opinion that can only be achieved with more inventory,” she said. “In order to attract inventory, we need to work with our builders and developers. In order to do that we need to ensure we are able to make the process quicker.”

The main issue Nahal said she’s heard from potential investors is the process takes too long — some between three or four years, she said.

Nahal said she worries if the processes aren’t made more efficient and timely, developers may take their investments to neighbouring communities such as Armstrong, Coldstream or Kelowna, despite an increased cost.

She clarified she’s not looking to dissect the plan, but rather see more engagement from the public and stakeholders.

“My hope is we get lots of engagement, as it shows the public cares,” she said. “Our staff has put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the OCP, not to mention expertise and experience they come with.

But, at the end of the day, we are elected public servants, the face of the city, and we have a responsibility to our key stakeholders to ensure the building process is effective and efficient.”

This notice of motion, calling for the formulation of a strategic plan and well-defined vision for the city’s growth — complete with photorealistic visualizations — is set to come before council Monday, March 22.

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@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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*Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said the OCP was up for renewal in 2022. That has been corrected to 2023.