Unlike a lot of public consultations, residents of Lake Country showed up in good numbers last week, beginning what’s expected to be a six-month process to figure out the future of the Pelmewash Parkway.
More than 100 Lake Country residents turned out at two public information sessions last week, putting forward ideas to a consultant hired to facilitate the process.
“I think it was great. It was really exciting to see the level of turnout that we received,” said Mark Koch, the director of planning with the District of Lake Country. “Often it’s tough to get people out for a public consultation. I think the level of interest people have (shows) it’s clear that this is an exciting project. It’s very rewarding to see the interest.”
The consultant met with residents in Oyama and then in Winfield last week, and will take the ideas put forward at the meetings and formulate them into some options for the future use of the seven kilometre stretch of highway that is currently Highway 97 but will be handed over to Lake Country, once the new highway bypass is completed later this year.
Lake Country Coun. Owen Dickie said it was nice to see so many people come out to give their thoughts on what the district should do with the corridor.
“I think the turnout was really amazing considering what we usually get for some of these meetings,” said Dickie. “The support and interest from the community is very encouraging.”
Dickie, who represents residents in Oyama, added that much of the public comment was consistent with a general vision of the parkway as a place for pedestrians to enjoy.
“It was pretty consistent what people felt about the overall vision of the area and that it’s a very much pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly type of space,” he said.
“I think this is going to be one of the most formative things to occur in Lake Country since it was incorporated. I believe it’s going to transform Oyama in a new way and make Lake Country a destination for the type of tourism we have never seen before.”
Dickie said while many folks were hoping for the same thing when it came to the recreational opportunities and access to Wood Lake that Pelmewash Parkway will eventually provide, he also said there was a divide between the meetings in Oyama and Winfield.
“The big difference was the majority of people in Oyama felt the road should stay open and be continuous between Oyama and Winfield, while people in Winfield thought it should be closed,” he said.
The two public meetings were the first steps in the consultation process that will eventually lead to a proposal or proposals being presented to Lake Country council for a final decision.
The process is expected to take up to six months.
“The consultant will take the feedback received from the community meetings and will develop some design specifics and ultimately some options will be prepared and presented back to the public for consideration,” said Koch.
At this point there are no future meetings set for the public.
The consultant will be meeting with specific stakeholder groups in the near future.