COVID-19 has forced Sidney to revise its public engagement process as the review of Official Community Plan continues.
Corey Newcomb, Sidney’s senior manager of long range planning, said the municipality has decided to move to an “all online engagement” for the remainder of the second phase of the community engagement process. This second phase headlined ‘explore options’ will run until the end of the March after having started in September 2020, when Sidney had hosted residents in person as part of a kick-off event that also included an online component.
“With that decision made (to move online), we are now planning to hold the (OCP) charrette online in mid-February, and we are actively revising our plan for this event,” said Newcomb.
Charrettes typically bring together various stakeholders to design and draft solutions to various problems.
“The charrette will be followed by a community-wide survey to help confirm the findings of the charrette, as well as other engagement opportunities which will be announced following the charrette and survey,” said Newcomb.
The shift toward an engagement process happening exclusively online puts the spotlight on the digital infrastructure, as was the case late last year when Sidney2040 Interactive Idea Map, a site experiencing public input, went down for a day or two.
Hosted by a third party, the site experienced what staff describe a “minor, temporary” server issue just before Christmas that had left it out of commission for a day or two. While it is not clear what caused the breakdown and how many people might have tried to access the page during the short time it was down, the overall impact will be likely minimal, staff said.
Staff also pointed out that the public will have several other opportunities to submit feedback and ask questions.
Sidney currently finds itself in the second of four phases with the second phase exploring options until March 2021, according to the official timeline. Phase 3 will see the drafting of the plan between April and August 2021, with the plan to be finalized during the fourth and final phase between September and November 2021.
Sidney adopted its current OCP in 2007.
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