A VIU student explains planning for an entrance feature for the north end of Campbell River to those gathered for the visioning session at Eagles Hall Wednesday night.

Campbellton planning big (and little) changes

Association has begun an in-depth review of what it would take to make Campbellton a place to be proud of

When you type “Campbell River, BC” into Google maps, the point that comes up is at the intersection of the Inland Island Highway and the Old Island Highway. It’s actually White’s Diesel Power and Marine, to be specific.

When you arrive by airplane, according to Brian Shaw of the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association, you’re taken via the Inland Island Highway through Campbellton in order to get into town, and yet it’s Willow Point, Downtown, and other areas that get the bulk of the attention in terms of improvement.

In an attempt to remedy that situation, the association has begun an in-depth review of what it would take to make Campbellton a place to be proud of. It should be more welcoming aesthetically for visitors, as well as more comfortable and accessible for residents, Shaw said.

Part of this plan involves a series of community consultations alongside the Urban Planning Team from Vancouver Island University (VIU), one of which was held Wednesday evening at the Eagles Hall. The VIU team has been working on their study of the area for more than a year, and have come up with some concrete plans and topics they feel should be addressed, which were recently presented to residents.

The VIU study is broken up into three sections: Mobility, Safety and Security, and Assets and Liabilities. The actions and projects they are discussing for consideration have four timeframes, from short to ongoing, and have four cost categories, from minimal to high, meaning any improvement, no matter how small, or how long it will take to accomplish, are candidates for consideration.

The priority actions that have risen to the top of the pile after more than a year of consultation and discussion, and were on the agenda for discussion at Wednesday’s meeting, are the implementation of an entrance feature for the north end of town, a plan for a Campbellton “main street,” a strategic plan for the riverfront, a community map, a community garden, and a bus exchange for the area.

Wednesday’s meeting was set up in what’s called a “World Cafe” format, where the meeting is broken up into groups that will discuss individual topics in different sections of the room, much like roundtables, and then participants circulate to other areas as the night progresses, once they’ve given their thoughts on the topic.

“I thought it was really well thought out and professionally done,” Shaw said about the meeting. “The information got out there, and that’s the important part. We really got a good idea about where people’s leanings were. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

One of the benefits, Shaw said, of having this round of meetings during the municipal government campaigning, is that many of the candidates, some of whom are currently on council, were in attendance.

“They’re the ones who need to see this,” Shaw said, “and hear all the great ideas people have and see the planning that’s continuing to go into them.”

Shaw said he was especially pleased to hear various council members’ thoughts on the topics and receive advice from them on how to possibly move forward from a municipal perspective.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing where this can go,” he said.

The next planning session with the VIU team is coming up on Saturday, Nov. 1, when the team will be doing a “walkabout” in Campbellton, discussing the area with any interested people to better inform their ongoing study. They will be meeting at the bowling alley at 1:00 p.m. to start the walk and talk.

Contact Shaw at bshaw@mackieresearch.com for more information about the planning process or upcoming visioning sessions.