Developmental contractors working hosted a public meeting on Sept. 21 about the Village Heights master plan. (Eddie Huband photos/Lakes District News)

Developmental contractors working hosted a public meeting on Sept. 21 about the Village Heights master plan. (Eddie Huband photos/Lakes District News)

Public information meeting for Village Heights project

VBL hosts drop-in meeting to provide information; get public input

Developmental contractors working with the Village of Burns Lake hosted a drop-in style public meeting on Sept. 21 for the proposed Village Heights development plan, complete with a walk-through presentation with bristol boards, and various writing stations to allow for public input. True Consulting, a consulting company based in Penticton that provides engineer and land surveying services, has been contracted to facilitate the project.

There was quite a high turnout, as dozens of residents attended over the course of three hours. The goal of the meeting was to provide information and give ideas to Burns Lake residents, as well as take public input about what direction the project should go in and evaluate the long term needs of the community.

Lakes District News spoke to Amy Wainwright, a contract developmental planner for the village who’s working on the project, about the importance of having meetings like this.

“I think that getting public input is very important for a project as big as this, because it gets people behind the it. We want to consider everyone’s input to make sure that we take the project in a direction that the community supports.”

Details of the project are currently undecided, but what is known is that the area of land that that will be developed is located just to the north of Highway 16, when entering Burns Lake from the East.

Though no decisions have been made about what will be developed, one of the clear options is to create an affordable housing complex. Part of the presentation was an information board about the lack of affordable housing in Burns Lake. The population of Burns Lake is expected to increase by 5.9 per cent from 2021-2026 according to the village, and there will also be an increase of new households by 69 during that time.

Furthermore, 4.3 per cent of all houses in Burns Lake include multiple families, and there is a shortage in the supply of rental housing. Several comments made by public residents echoed this issue. Some of the notes written by visitors included ideas such as adding low income townhouses, medium housing mixed with natural space, small houses for people with minimum wage jobs, and housing for seniors.

However, other ideas were also presented by the public that take more of an environmental approach, such as walking trails and community gardens.

Some of the concerns brought up by local residents included making sure whatever structure is built is eco-friendly by incorporating solar panels and geothermal heating. Other concerns that were brought up included making the structure fire-resistant, and handicap accessible.

There was also a comment made about the fear that creating a large housing complex would take away from why people want to move to a small town such as Burns Lake.

As for the next steps in the project, developmental contractors from True Consulting will take into account the public’s input and commence on plan development. There will be an open house on Dec. 8 to update residents on how the plan is moving forward, and from there, revisions will be made depending on how the plan is received. They hope to deliver a set plan to village council by February 2022.

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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