After winning FCM’s top planning award for Imagine Our Future, the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan for Williams Lake led by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability and The Natural Step Canada, it would have been tempting to assume that most of the sustainability work had been accomplished.  Of course, the ICSP is only the tip of the iceberg and the start of any community’s sustainability journey!

Effective ICSP’s are adopted as overarching policy documents, meaning that they should inform and direct all other community plans, policies, projects, and practices.  In the case of Williams Lake, Imagine Our Future immediately led to Creating Our Future, a major update of the Official Community Plan (OCP) being led by the Centre.  This is a unique process we are pioneering in Williams Lake to create a comprehensive ICSP and then fully integrate the ICSP directions into the OCP.

OCPs define the physical blueprint for a community in BC, and they outline key policy directions in areas under local jurisdiction.  As a result, it is an important testing ground for flowing down ICSP directions into the day-to-day decisions by staff and decision-makers on the ground.

The process started with a critical review of community land use to ensure that it was consistent with sustainability and Smart Growth planning principles.  This involved a review of land use as one of two main topics at a major Innovators Summit, a number of focus groups, online surveys, and a review of the resulting suitability mapping.

To ensure that the OCP not only considers the ICSP, but institutionalizes it, it introduces the directions from Imagine Our Future early in the document, followed by a chapter with distinct policy sections in support of each ICSP sustainability strategy.  The Land Use Plan and Development Permit Area chapters then reflect these sustainability directions in land use and development.

Once the draft OCP has been reviewed by the public and approved by Council, the next and perhaps most important phase begins reviewing ICSP and OCP progress regularly using indicators and reporting systems and then working closely with community partners to create the actions necessary to achieve the community’s vision of the future!

Visit the Williams Lake “Imagine our Future” site for more information.