From dreaming to doing: our journey to 2040

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Oct 19, 2021

Kelowna’s journey has been one of constant evolution.

The syilx/Okanagan peoples are intimately aware of the changes their home has seen since early settlers first arrived here. Others may remember Kelowna as a small, agricultural town.

And in recent years the pace of change has accelerated – the community we are today is not the same as it was even a decade ago. This has challenged the City and citizens alike to think differently than we have in the past while pausing to reflect on what kind of community we want to become as we venture into the 21st century.

In 2018, people from every corner of the city came together to develop a vision for the next 20 years. The most extensive public participation our community had ever seen, Imagine Kelowna brought thousands of voices together to lay out a shared, strategic vision for our future.

One of those voices belonged to a young resident named Frida. She watched the Imagine Kelowna process unfold with interest and felt compelled to address Council during the public hearing.

She described feeling nervous and unsure about what to say. But she believed it was important to share her perspective – a perspective she felt was shared by others her own age.

Frida spoke passionately about her hopes for the future as well as her fears about what kind of world she and other young people will eventually inherit. She said:

“Us young people, we are so passionate and creative. We want to be innovative.

We want to take care of our environment, co-exist with it, and be responsible for our resources.

We want to be connected to one another,

And we want to bring change, good change, to the world and our community.”

Frida’s speech struck a chord – it captured the very heart of Imagine Kelowna and what might be possible if we harness our collective energy and work together to build a better tomorrow. And Frida wasn’t alone. Residents from all walks of life called on the City to be bold in order to achieve our shared aspirations – and address our most pressing challenges – in pursuit of a more sustainable, equitable future for Kelowna.

Imagine Kelowna was the first step in realizing that future.

Today, as we near the end of the 2040 Official Community Plan process, Policy & Planning Manager Danielle Noble-Brandt revisits our conversation with Frida and reflects on the OCP journey.

Dear Frida,

Thank you for showing up to share your hopes for Kelowna during our community vision process. I often look back on that day and one of the things I remember most is your heartfelt message.

As you shared Frida, the Imagine Kelowna vision catalyzed ideas and actions for a better world and reflects our desire, capacity and responsibility to make this happen.

I wanted to let you know that since we last saw you, we’ve made progress towards putting our vision into action, and are moving from dreaming to doing. Building on those earlier conversations with the community that you took part in, the goals in Imagine Kelowna now provide the foundation for our 2040 Official Community Plan.

Shaping the next two decades, the OCP sets out our vision and purpose, as well as our goals and strategies for years to come. It will serve as a framework for our community and guide our decisions, actions and intentions as we journey ahead.

The 2040 OCP aims to address many of the things you and so many others spoke about: climate and the environment, social inclusion, and equity. By putting the plan to work, we will fight to preserve what we love about Kelowna for future generations and strive to be better where we’ve fallen short - and, in doing so, enhance our collective well-being. This OCP reflects our duty to grow responsibly, preserve our natural resources, and create a community that serves everyone.

This means making meaningful progress towards Reconciliation and ensuring that everybody who lives here can make a living, find suitable housing, get around easily and safely, and enjoy fulfilling human social interactions. It means having the courage and conviction to stand firm in the face of climate change and protect the land, water, and air that sustains us – and restore what’s already been lost – by doing things differently than we have in the past.

One of the parts that stood out to me in your speech, Frida, was when you said “For there to be a better future for the next generation, the time to work hard and sacrifice is now! We can no longer work to benefit the self but [must] work towards to common good.”

To me, this means the status quo can no longer hold: if we want to fulfill the promise of our community vision, we must dare to be better.

Because the decisions we make today will determine what kind of city we live in tomorrow and for generations to come. And as we stand on the doorstep of Imagine Kelowna and step into the Official Community Plan, we will have choices to make: choices about how we grow, how we live, and how we look after one another. You’re right, Frida: we will also make choices about the quality of life the next generation will inherit. This will undoubtedly involve tensions and trade-offs – but what lies ahead is the very real opportunity to be and do better by living out our shared values with integrity and inspiring others to do the same.

Each of us shares a responsibility in making our community vibrant, stronger, and more fair. Many hands will have to hold this plan up in order to see it through – because the key ingredient of the OCP is, after all, community. This moment in time calls for us to draw from our individual and collective strengths to affect sustainable and positive change.

My hope is that as we walk this path forward together, we can all put our heads, hands and hearts into realizing our fullest potential.  By maintaining this connection, and through acts big and small, we can leverage our capacity, creativity, and compassion in addressing the complex and systemic challenges our city and world face today.

I am proud of the passion you and your generation have for our collective future and how you have come together to create the direction and spirit of this Plan. Change is inevitable but if we make good choices and take care of each other, the next chapter in our community’s story will be one I hope you’ll be proud of.

With gratitude,

Danielle


The 2040 Official Community Plan goes to Public Hearing on Oct. 26, 2021. To learn more about how to participate in the public hearing process, visit kelowna.ca/council

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