Over the past year you, Gabriola residents, have participated in four community workshops and offered up your ideas, comments and vision for our community. Reflecting on the information gathered from these events, the committee has organized the information in a draft document which outlines the overall vision, guiding values and principles you have offered. Please have a look and forward your comments to us in the area below this post. We look forward to your ideas and comments.
Village Vision Plan Framework
Gabriola’s Village is the heart of the island. It is where Gabriolans gather to shop, celebrate, play, exercise, socialize, eat, work and live – a complete, vibrant, and walkable village at the center of our larger island community. The complete and compact community design in the Village enhances connection, vitality, and walkability, and reduces sprawl and habitat fragmentation in the more rural areas of the island. Innovative and sustainable infrastructure ensures development respects the area’s carrying capacity. Our streets and walkways are valuable public open space that put pedestrians and cyclists first, creating a welcoming, attractive, and safe environment to “park once then walk”. Places and buildings are well designed, human-scale, and use a local and creative vernacular, creating a distinctive and memorable Village environment that is compelling for visitors and residents alike. The Village is also the center of a strong, locally based economy that supports working families, demographic diversity, and a healthy, sustainable quality of life. Our governing bodies and private development work collaboratively to ensure public and private improvement projects contribute to the greater Village context, and make incremental progress towards the community’s vision for Gabriola’s Village core.
Guiding Values and Principles
Building for Resiliency and Sustainability
In the context of climate change and the island’s limited carrying capacity we need to plan for resiliency and sustainability. That means understanding the limitations of carrying capacity, creating innovative approaches to manage pressures now and into the future, and understanding and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Gabriola can learn from other rural communities and become a showcase for innovation in its own right through development of new water and septic technologies, use of solar energy, edible landscapes, rain gardens, green building design and grey water systems. We should not be afraid to rethink our attitude towards ‘density’ in the context of sustainability.
Encouraging and Supporting Diversity
A vibrant village core will be demographically diverse, meet a diversity of needs, and provide a diversity of housing opportunities. This means that the village core will have the capacity to support a cross-section of the population (e.g., seniors, special needs, families, youth, children, and single people). Planning will address current, emerging and desired demographics (e.g., balancing the predicted growth in the aging population with the need to make the Village welcoming and attractive for younger people). The village core will accommodate a variety of land uses including commercial, light industrial, institutional, housing, green space including small scale agriculture and cultural activities (e.g., artisans). A vibrant village core will also depend on have a diversity of housing optionsincluding single family, duplex, multi-unit, and work/live arrangements and an array of affordability and ownership options including fee simple ownership, rental, subsidized, co-op housing, co-housing, and respite housing.
Sustaining a Welcoming Gabriola Aesthetic
The village should reflect the island’s rural culture and values and its deep roots in the arts. The village should be visually and physically welcoming through the use of street art, information, attractive signage and places to sit and socialize. The design of the Village should say something about our culture as West Coasters and islanders and the imperative that we live sustainably within our environment. We should encourage the use of natural materials, small scale buildings and compact living spaces. Designs should be simple, sustainable, and emphasize the natural setting.
Enhancing Community Vitality
Land use bylaws, building designs, landscaping and hardscaping should enhance the potential for the social, cultural, economic and physical well-being of the community. Design should enable increased, multi-modal connectivity linking walking, bike-riding, bus routes to a central gathering place. Linkages should focus on safely linking from the ferry to Tin Can Alley. Building, green space, and infrastructure design should be built to a scale that empowers rather than overwhelms people who will be using the space. It should ensure accessibility as well as access to amenities such as washrooms and emphasize parks rather than parking.
A Community-Owned Village Core
While comparatively few people live in the village core, it represents a central gathering place on the island used regularly by every resident. We need to have a balance between privately owned properties and public spaces ranging from plazas or town squares to parks and gardens, as well as performance, exhibition, and community gathering space. Although the island is supported by a number of governance bodies (e.g., Islands Trust, RDN and MOTI) there needs to be a way to ensure islanders have a streamlined way to express their aspirations for the village core.
Our operating principles speak to the way we behave in gathering input, analysing, planning, and engaging. Our primary role is to facilitate a community process. We offer our time and energy on a volunteer basis for the good of our community by:
· Clearly articulating the role of this project as generating ideas and vision, and recognizing that this effort has no statutory authority for directing implementation;
· Facilitating and encouraging open and bold thinking by everyone, while also providing information as needed to keep expectations realistic;
· Designing a process that encourages broad participation by community members, groups, businesses, neighbors, local governing bodies and all stakeholders;
· Documenting all ideas and comments and reporting them back to the community;
· Being open, honest and accountable in our activities, and providing easy access to information to the community at large, everyone we work with and with each other;
· Contributing our own ideas as community members throughout the process, while avoiding imposing our opinions on others, and challenging each other if we are acting in bias;
· Promoting an environment of respectful communication and dialogue;
· Endeavouring to provide useful and accurate information as needed to inform the discussion.
Focus Areas, Goals and Actions [to be developed]
At this point we envision six focus areas: housing; sustainability, ecosystems and reducing our climate footprint; site infrastructure and carrying capacity; character, aesthetics and culture; economy and commerce; public spaces; and circulation and connectivity. For each of these focus areas we would identify: desired future states; primary goals; strategies; the actions necessary to achieve the goals; and the indicators that will tell us if we have been successful.
We feel we can begin to flesh out some of these areas already either because we have already had a workshop specific to the topic (e.g., housing) or because we have gathered feedback that aligns with a particular topic (e.g., circulation and connectivity).
Governance and Implementation [to be developed]
Recognizing that we don’t have the authority or resources to implement many of the things in the plan, this section will identify the parts of the plan that will require either changes to existing statutes, regulations, bylaws or policies or commitment of resources. It will likely address the following governance bodies: Islands Trust (land use bylaws and policies); RDN (building code; waste management); MOTI (roadways); and, Island Health (water, septic).