Who decides if we have a trail? We do.
Who decides if we allow development or industry? We do.
Who decides to buy land for a park? We do.
As a community we have several guiding documents that help shape decisions that determine the future community we are creating. As an unincorporated area we have limited tools (when compared to an incorporated municipality), but we do have legislated and accepted documents such as the Official Community Plan, the Parks Master Plan and the ThinkShawnigan Village Plan. All are necessary and play different roles in helping drive daily decisions towards our desired future outcome.
The Official Community Plan (OCP) lays out goals, objectives and policies, including land designations, for the future land use and development (or preservation) of a given area. The OCP also helps guide the Regional District in developing and applying bylaws in the community. The OCP was created by community and approved by the community at the time of its adoption. This document usually lasts for around 20 years with only a few changes to it over time (despite rumours to the contrary the Board of the CVRD does not take amendments to any OCP lightly.) The OCP sets the stage and is basically the ‘over arching principles’ guiding the development in any given Area.
The Parks Master Plan sets the priorities for community parks and trails in and around Shawnigan Lake. This plan outlines key linkages and parkland opportunities within the area. This ensures our network of parks and trails are cohesive for residents and visitors into the future. This plan also enables the CVRD to act quickly when an opportunity arises, since sometimes it is hard to recognize an opportunity if you don't have a Plan. We have made great strides in Shawnigan over the past 9 years; our Masterplan was adopted in 2012 and much of it is complete.
The ThinkShawnigan Plan digs even deeper to create a more specific and detailed plan focused on a small but key area. The Plan encompasses the village and lakeshore from Government Wharf Park to Mason’s Beach and includes the large undeveloped space across from the community centre. Given this areas importance to the community, the ThinkShawnigan Plan has had more community input than any other community engagement to date. The extensive consultation process allowed the community to directly influence how we want the village core to develop over the next 10-20 years.
Many exciting changes have happened in the ThinkShawnigan zone recently. For example, the Community Centre upgraded their signage, allowing information to be shared more quickly and efficiently. This new sign is also safer for migrating birds as it is smaller and not as bright as the previous backlit board. There was also a major land acquisition between Dougan Park (SLCC) and Mason’s Beach. This new 2 acre parcel was originally zoned commercial and could have been anything from a mechanic’s shop to a boutique hotel, but now it belongs to the community and we can taylor this new park over time to best fit the communities requirements. I am grateful to the CVRD and the Area B Parks Commission for their support in helping our community preserve such a valuable waterfront green space.
This is an exciting time for the community of Shawnigan as we move forward on a number of key aspects of these various plans that will shape the future of our community. We have just taken another massive step towards creating a cohesive green space along the northeast shore of the Lake that will eventually have an accessible walking trail that stretches all the way from Mason’s Beach to Old Mill Park (and on the far side of Old Mill Park, there is another trail that continues all the way to the top of Old Baldy.) This wonderful network of waterfront parks and trails will provide lake access and recreation opportunities for everyone to enjoy now and into the future. Love it, Share it, Protect it!