A large crowd came out to a public information session on Tuesday to view the initial report on the Silverdale Comprehensive Planning Area. / Kevin Mills Photo

A large crowd came out to a public information session on Tuesday to view the initial report on the Silverdale Comprehensive Planning Area. / Kevin Mills Photo

Silverdale planning is just beginning

Public meeting shows initial steps; next up will be examining infrastructure

Silverdale residents and members of the public were invited to an information session on Tuesday regarding the Master Infrastructure Strategy’s initial analysis of the Silverdale Comprehensive Planning Area.

The meeting, held at the Best Western, featured a series of storyboards showcasing some of the environmental areas, archeological aspects, geo-technical concerns and other factors in the area.

A large crowd came to the meeting to view the boards and talk with district staff and members of the consulting firm Ekistics.

Tracy Kyle, Mission’s director of engineering and public works, said the studies into the Silverdale area are just beginning.

“We’ve got a lot more work that’s going to be coming. This is the first of several open houses that will be coming over the coming months,” she said, adding that the final study is expected in June 2019.

Kyle said the study will give the “roadwork” for what the whole Silverdale area is going to look like.

“From there, the next step – and there are many steps to come – will be doing some neighbourhood planning.”

Kyle said the initial public information meeting is the precursor, as it looks at geo-technical facts, environmental issues, archeology and other groundwork.

The next step is looking at infrastructure – water, sewer, drainage and roads.

“The next step is the big question. Knowing all these constraints that we see on these boards now helps us figure out where we can put reservoirs for water, where can our main roads be,” Kyle said.

At that time, the area will likely be broken into several pieces and examined individually.

“We’ll break it maybe into four or five areas and then each of those areas, we will dig really deep. That’s when it’s going to start to get interesting, where we will see these are exactly where the roads are going to be, this is exactly where a park is going to be.”

At that time, Kyle said another information meeting will take place.

“That will be far more interesting, I think, for people to look at. That’s when we’ll start to see things like how costly this is going to be on a very high level. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

“That’s why you have to break it down into smaller bits because we are not going to develop the whole thing all at once. This is a many, many year plan,” Kyle said.

Paul Fenske, a planning consultant with Ekistics, was also in attendance at the information session to answer any questions.

He explained the process so far.

“As part of the 2018 OCP (official community plan), the District of Mission designated the Silverdale Comprehensive Planning Area (SCPA) for future growth. And when we think about future growth, we’re not thinking about the way communities were built in the ’50s and ’60s – what we call today ‘sprawl,’ where it is essentially just a series of big bedrooms connected by big roads to other places. We looking at more sustainable communities.

“That really means having enough people living close together and having a mixture of uses so you can live, shop, work and play in your community, rather than always getting up at six and getting on the highway and going somewhere else to work for the day,” Fenske said.

He called the information on the boards the first step in acting on the OCP designation for future urban growth and understanding how this huge area – 3,500 acres – should be developed.

“It’s not flat. We have major mountains, we have major ravines, we have very sensitive environmental features within it, so how do we begin to cluster development in a way that makes sense? How do we link that development with major roads, water, sewer services and provide necessary things like schools, commercial areas and community centres?

“Today is really presenting the first findings on environment, archeology and pure technical qualities of the soil on how this area could develop. because there are areas that make sense for development and there are areas, like super-steep slopes, that don’t make sense for development. We want to know where these things are.”

Anyone who was unable to come to the information meeting can view the storyboards on the district’s website at mission.ca.