Surrey’s proposed draft Official Community Plan was referred back to city staff after several residents criticized the document and the process in creating it a public hearing this week.
Monday’s hearing saw objections raised around issues such as the Semiahmoo Town Plan and proposed density, transportation, public safety, environmental habitat and the demand for public hearing processes for neighborhood concept plans.
But a consistent problem residents had was accessing information and city documents online.
“I was quite saddened to hear that their lack of access to information, whether that be through our website or through other channels at the City of Surrey,” said Coun. Barinder Rasode. “Very consistently, speakers said they had trouble finding documents and I think that’s why as we move forward, we need to make sure that we look at more open data approaches.”
One speaker said he hadn’t “found the right steps to achieve the public input that I think the OCP needs to be viable.”
Rasode said she is an advocate for the availability of public information.
“The information belongs to the people, whatever information that is,” she said. “And it should be readily available.”
City staff have now been asked to incorporate all the comments made at the public hearing and bring the report back. No deadline has been set for the new OCP.
However, despite the plan not being carried, Rasode said she was impressed with the amount of feedback given by those in attendance.
“The fact that so many residents — who if they were a part of an association, do this on a volunteer basis — had done a very thorough read and analysis of the OCP document,” said Rasode. “They were so engaged and I think that Surrey is definitely headed in the right direction and has a very bright future because when you have people like that paying attention, it’s just really encouraging.”