UBC planning experts setting up shop in Revelstoke

Ronald Kellett

A group of planning researchers are going to be setting up shop in Revelstoke to look at the way planning choices can impact climate change.

“We’re trying to figure out how we can improve the way climate change issues are considered as people make choices about how they plan the community for the future,” said Ronald Kellett, who is heading up the study. “How do you engage a community in an informed conversation about their future relative to climate change?”

Kellett, a professor with the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia, will be working on the project along with his colleague Cynthia Girling and Maged Senbel and Mark Stevens from the School of Community and Regional Planning. Together – with the help of some graduate students – they are looking to develop an outreach program that can be transferred to other communities

Revelstoke was chosen as the initial partner because of the extensive, sophisticated planning processes taking place in the city, Kellett said.

“It’s actually way out front of cities its size in the province,” he said. “Probably the most important point from a climate change perspective are the district energy initiatives that are going on in Revelstoke. They are extremely important to a lower carbon future.”

The project will also allow the city to take advantage of the university’s modelling software, that will allow them to create a model of a city and show how new developments fit in to the existing landscape.

“It allows people to get a good flavour of what the street character of development can look like,” said John Guenther, the city’s director of planning.

Said Kellett: “If we’re successful in this we’ll be able to show people pictures of what it’s going to look like and get some kind of measurement of how many people, how many jobs and what carbon implications are there.”

The Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation is also seen as a major bonus. The modeling software can help determine if it makes sense to extend the community energy system to a new development.

How exactly the project will be conducted is still being figured out. The city is proposing a design centre where people can come in and look at the models available and meet with the planners.

Kellett added that they should not be confused for the consultants that helped develop the city’s planning documents – the transportation plan, the community energy and emissions plan, the parks and recreation plan and the unified development bylaw. He said their role will to be to react to what people tell them, rather than be pro-active.

“I think what we’d be more interesting in doing is giving the city measurements for what it thinks its future is as opposed to telling them what the future should be.”

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