How to Engage 101: Open Spaces

You’ve got to hand it to the Town of Cochrane (and the folks from Intelligent Futures) for their Open Spaces community engagement process. I am seriously engaged. I just spent the last hour pouring over an interactive map of Cochrane, reading other’s comments and putting my own thoughts on the map. Really well done (insert thumbs up here).

In addition to the interactive map, they’re also running focus groups, started a Facebook page and installed “sounding boards” at busy places around town.

Sounding boards in Cochrane

One of the major complaints that residents in Cochrane seem to voice (over and over), is displeasure with the process and the lack of transparency when Council and Town Administration are making decisions. You only have to think back to the uproar over the Man of Vision logo, and the early days of the transit discussion, to get the sense that it’s not WHAT decisions are being made, it’s HOW they’re made and WHO gets to be involved.

For what it’s worth, the high standard being set for public engagement with the Open Spaces plan should be the new standard for the Town of Cochrane when they’re setting direction for major infrastructure and long range planning.

This includes;

  1. The pool. 30 million bucks are slated to go to this project in the next few years.
  2. The art’s center. It’s going to be a major development, with a lot of potential to continue putting Cochrane on the map as not just a suburb of Calgary.
  3. Transit. I’m pretty sure the town learned a lesson on this one already, and the quality of engagement is up significantly from the fall.
  4. The “Quarry” (former Domtar site). What amenities does this town really need and want? Big box stores? Pedestrian malls? Mixed use commercial and residential? Doesn’t hurt to ask.

If you’re a Cochrane resident, and haven’t had a chance to engage with the Open Spaces planning yet, here are some ways to go about it;

The Facebook Page.

The Interactive Map.

The Online Survey. (I couldn’t link straight to the survey, because I already completed it. This link will take you to an article from Discover Airdrie, and you can access the survey from there. You could also always go to Cochrane Parks page).

Or head on down to the off-leash area by the river and provide some good ol' fashioned feedback.

I sure hope that when the Open Spaces Master Plan comes out that there isn’t a bunch of “you never asked me my opinion” backlash. There are no shortage of opportunities to get involved on this one.

What do you think?

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