Are you ready for all of the changes proposed by the City of Courtenay as they tackle the tough challenge of reducing our community’s impact on Climate Change? Despite the misleading information that abounds regarding cause and costs, I believe that this challenge is about making the Comox Valley a better place to live, less expensive, and thus more resilient to the unknowns that we are all about to face. Here is my list of some of the things that you just might see as we move forward:
Paying Less Taxes: The City will be changing the way it designs and constructs its civil infrastructure including it’s water, sewer and transportation systems. By concentrating these services in the dense and compact municipal cores, the exponentially increasing expense of extending services to the City boundaries will be eliminated and minimal tax will be required to maintain and upgrade the existing infrastructure. Not having to build a 3rd crossing of the Courtenay River will save tax payers over $30 M alone. Designing narrower city streets for pedestrians and cyclists will cost less than widening them for cars. With this new approach to infrastructure, opportunities will be created for local, more efficient, district energy systems and we will be less susceptible to the pending increases in large scale regional energy costs.
Getting More Exercise: In order to reduce the emissions from passenger vehicles, Courtenay will be designing their streets to accommodate the pedestrian first, then the cyclist, then the car. Sidewalks will be designed to make the walking experience safer and more enjoyable. City blocks will be designed to be smaller and more compact, making it much easier to get around on foot. Shade trees will be planted along the edges of all streets to keep things cool during the heat of summer. Narrow streets lined with buildings having minimal setbacks and broad canopies will provide wind breaks and protection from severe winter weather. New zoning measures will allow new homes to be created within the same community as shops, offices and recreation so that there is better opportunity to live and work and shop in the same area, all within walking distance.
Better Health: In addition to the daily exercise you will be getting, the new measures implemented by the City of Courtenay will eliminate the pressure to develop (sprawl) out into wetlands, environmentally sensitive ecosystems, and prime farm land; allowing more opportunity for nature nearby and for convenient local food production. Public markets in every neighbourhood will provide easy access to healthy, locally grow food. The various measures for the reduction in GHG production will improve air quality and ensure an adequate supply of clean drinking water.
More Lifestyle Choices: New types of communities will be developed to provide more variety and choice of lifestyle. To supplement the existing single family subdivisions located in areas separate from the business districts, the City of Courtenay will encourage some of it’s existing neighbourhoods to develop with a complete mix of uses including residential, retail, commerce and recreation. As these new areas are discovered as exciting places to live, viable alternatives to what we have now, their compact and efficient systems will have a dramatic impact on reducing the GHG emissions in the City of Courtenay.
Having More Free Time: The new dense and compact communities will be designed with local public green space and a variety of local public amenity, easily accessible to everyone in the neighbourhood. The traditional high maintenance, ornamental front yard will be replaced by local parks, maintained by municipal staff to the highest standards, for resident use in all seasons. No more lawn cutting, weeding, leaf raking, etc. Walking to work and to get your groceries will eliminate the wasted time spent commuting and going nowhere on a treadmill in a gym.
Riding Enjoyable Convenient Transit: The City will be working with BC Transit to make it serve the people better. Transit routes will provide frequent, 5 minute service to the more dense compact areas where some new development will be approved, connecting more people to more of everything within minutes, not hours.
Personal Transportation Freedom at Lower Cost: When needed for your personal trips beyond the reach of transit you will be able to choose a vehicle just the right size and type from the local community car coop, always clean and well serviced, paying only for the distance that you drive.
A Thriving Economy: By localizing as much commerce as we can within our region, we eliminate the additional expense associated with importing many of our needs and we provide opportunity for local business to prosper. By providing at least equal opportunity to local business as it does to national and global chains, the City of Courtenay will help to create a resilient local economy with a positive impact on everyone living in it. A thriving local economy will provide greater opportunity for our children to live and work in their home region.
If these issues are important to you, please come out and express yourself at the Public Hearing. You can read the proposed bylaw at the City of Courtenay website at www.city.courtenay.bc.ca. This is our future that we all create together.
Tom Dishlevoy, Architect