by Deron Johnston
There is a tool available that was designed to help communities to create and manage the built environment within a community (or specific area): a Community Design Plan (CDP). Community Design is an important part of good land use planning and, if planned and executed properly, it can enhance the attractiveness, vibrancy and sustainability of the physical environment of a community. Though they are not mandatory, and have no legal standing like Official Plans and Community Strategic Plans, they can be adopted as a municipal council policy for public and private development within a defined area.
Enhancing the relationship between people and the built environment, within the scope of people’s daily lives, might be the most critical piece of a CDP. Some of the elements of a built environment that are part of a community’s shared life (and often addressed in a CDP) are parks, green spaces, trail/path systems, sidewalks, streetscapes, and all other aspects of a built environment (buildings, parking lots etc). CDPs can even be used to assess the need for future requirements for water, wastewater, stormwater, roads and transit systems.
Transit systems can also be examined, using Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Plans, which are a form of CDP and are often prepared to open the door for transit systems in under-developed lands within an urbanized area (such as Kemptville). Kemptville currently has a large area (sometimes referred to as the Northwest Quadrant) that is currently in various stages of development, which may be a good candidate for this type of activity.
Some of the benefits that can result from CDPs are: neighbourhood beautification, higher property values, safer public and private spaces, increased opportunities for healthy and active transportation (walking, biking etc.), stronger community identity and cohesion, increased economic activity, additional municipal tax revenues, more visitor-friendly spaces (tourism), reduced negative environmental impacts, and enhanced green spaces.
If you search The City of Ottawa’s website, they currently have 42 CDPs in their library of Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development documents. The oldest dates back to 2003, and some are listed as “in progress”. In Ottawa, CDPs are “intended to guide change in areas of Ottawa that are targeted for growth and improvement as directed by the Official Plan”.
It’s important to note that CDPs do not need to be initiated by municipal government, but can be started privately by businesses, community organizations, or residents. As a matter of fact, Burritts Rapids has, apparently, already begun the process of creating their own CDP. In the spirit of community building, this could be a wonderful exercise for all hamlets to undertake, as a way to bring residents together to have direct input into the type of communities that they would like to live in. An area like Downtown Kemptville would also appear to be a prime candidate that could benefit from a CDP.