Tony Sprackett

Fernwood community plan sets vision for the future

Tony Sprackett believes there’s no merit when it comes to being first out of the gate.

Tony Sprackett believes there’s no merit when it comes to being first out of the gate.

The president of the Fernwood Community Association believes that is especially true when it comes to updating Fernwood’s local community plan.

Currently, the neighbourhood’s 22-year-old plan outlines development principles and visions for the area. However, since the plan hasn’t been updated in more than two decades, it has caused problems between developers putting forward new proposals and residents, and has resulted in Victoria city council dealing with building proposals on an ad hoc basis, Sprackett said.

“We’ve been pushing for this as a critical thing to happen because there is no certainty right now for developers or residents. Everything is done on an ad hoc basis, which can create animosity, hurt feelings and not necessarily the best outcome,” he said.

“When you have a plan that everyone can refer to right from the get-go, this is not going to fly or yes, maybe this is a good idea or yes, this fits.”

However, the city is looking to change that by updating all 13 neighbourhood local area plans.

In September, the city moved ahead to the final round of the draft Burnside Gorge Neighbourhood Plan, which is the first of 10 new neighbourhood plans that will be created over the next four years.

Recently, city staff met with residents of the Fernwood and North Park neighbourhoods to start discussions around updating the plans and outlining the process by which to do it as well.

Looking at how the Burnside Gorge plan was rolled out will help the city fine tune the process when it comes to updating the plans in other neighbourhoods, including Fernwood, Sprackett said.

“Because it hasn’t been done in so long, everyone is rusty on it (the process,) and they’re way overdue,” he said, adding the city hopes to create a board from each neighbourhood that would include representatives from various community groups to hear from as many voices as possible.

“It’s going to be very important who those people are. We want it to be focused on each community. We’ll be wanting to engage the community

David Maxwell, chair of the Fernwood land use committee, said a new area plan will help give vision to the neighbourhood.

“It just gives more certainty.  It provides a vision. If you’re deciding to buy a house in a neighbourhood, renovate a house or decide where to live, it’s nice to know what the plan is for this area. Is somebody going to knock down the house next door and put up an apartment building there and all of the sudden, my area is going to be shaded?” he said.

“People who are attracted to this neighbourhood will want to know what’s going on here.”

The city is currently working on neighbourhood plans for Fairfield, Gonzales and Vic West. The Fernwood Neighbourhood Plan is expected to launch in March 2017.