Choosing Our Future – District of Lake Country BC Wins 2018 CAMA Willis Award for Innovation
Lake Country is a much-loved municipality in the Okanagan Valley. Lakes, vineyards and orchards abound, and those who live there will tell you Lake Country has its own unique charm. With a population of 13,000, it’s also the fasted-growing community in BC, so planning for the future is especially critical. In 2017, it was time for Lake Country to update their Official Community Plan (OCP), and with help from Urban Systems Ltd., they decided to get input using some creative techniques.
To get the project started, a kick-off event to the On Point engagement series was held at the Beasley Community Centre. The night featured poetry, live music and local art, food, wine, and craft beer. Speakers ranged from local youth to business people and social justice representatives. Attendees had the opportunity to talk about what they loved about Lake Country, and brainstorm ideas with others about what they’d like to see changed.
“There was a real community spirit to our engagement activities — especially our kick-off event,” said Communications and Engagement Coordinator Daylin Mantyka.
“Lake Country citizens clearly love their community and it shows with their willingness to take part in feedback sessions that were a little different.”
You’ve Got to Kiss A lot of Frogs
Once the engagement period was officially kicked off, Frog Talks were introduced. The idea was simple—a few frog figurines lived at the District office and residents could come and sign out a frog. Attached to each frog was a worksheet filled with questions. For example: What do you like about living here? What changes would you like to see in the future? What would you keep the same?
Friends and family were encouraged to order a pizza and answer the questions together. They could then submit their receipt and the District would reimburse them for up to $50. When residents were done with the frog, they were encouraged to pass it on to someone else. The Frog Talks occurred throughout the summer, from June to September. Many worksheets were submitted (and many pizzas consumed!).
Pop-Up and Pop-In Engagement Booths
The project team also met people at local hotspots—they set up a booth at the beach, on sports fields, at Canada Day events, at the Fish and Game Club, the Farmer’s Market, and more. The booth had large panels with activities and a map of Lake Country that residents could attach sticky notes to, pointing out areas of concern or things they enjoyed about their community.
Meaningful Discussion, Strong Direction
To wrap all of it up, the project team hosted a final event in October 2017. They compiled the feedback they’d received and made workbooks highlighting things they wanted more specific feedback on (i.e. tree removal or aggregate extraction). A number of work stations were set up at the event, each featuring a different topic. Participants were divided into groups and encouraged to visit three different stations to complete a workbook. Organizers gathered the workbooks, summarized the results and drafted the District’s Official Community Plan, the first reading of which was given in May this year.
These engagement sessions went above and beyond the traditional open house style of engagement, and were considered a great success. Organizers were proud to be awarded the 2018 Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) Willis Award for Innovation under their National Awards of Excellence Program.
Community Planner Brittany Tuttle, who was on the project team said that it was inspiring to see the community’s level of involvement.
“People really, really love living in Lake Country. They’re so passionate about their community and are so happy to be there. Lake Country is going through this very interesting shift right now because a lot of people are moving from the Lower Mainland. Everyone wants the best for the future. It was really nice to see the turnout at these events—we had almost 100 people at the workshop and about 130 at the On Point event, with many people of all ages actively participating.”