Bishop’s Falls seeking input for first municipal plan since 1990
© Andrea Gunn photo
From left, Bishop’s Falls Mayor Bob Hobbs, Neil Dawe from Tract Consulting, and Councillor Rob Canning talk town planning at last Saturday’s public meeting. The meeting was held to seek input from the public for the Town’s upcoming municipal plan.
According to Bishop's Falls Mayor Bob Hobbs, towns should update their municipal plans around every five years.
Why, then, has Bishop's Falls not done so since 1990?
"There's no good reason," said Mayor Hobbs. "Maybe it was because people accepted the way it was."
While having citizens that are content with the status quo isn't necessarily a bad thing, Mayor Hobbs knows that in order to tap into the full potential for growth in his community, they need to get planning.
Last weekend, the Town of Bishop's Falls hosted a public meeting in partnership with Tract Consulting, the firm that has been hired to help them with their planning, in order to get input from residents on how they would like to see their community evolve.
"A municipal plan tells us where we need to go; it identifies what we've got in the community, and where we need to take things in terms of land planning, tourism, heritage, and zoning," said Mayor Hobbs.
The meeting, which was held at Leo Burke Academy, gave citizens the opportunity to provide suggestions and ask questions to council members and representatives from Tract Consulting. Residents were also asked to fill out surveys and provide feedback on what issues are most important to them when going forward with development in the town.
Also, for the first time, a survey was made available through the Bishop's Falls Facebook page, which Mayor Hobbs said has received a good response from the younger generation – a demographic that is often overlooked.
Mayor Hobbs said the Town has a few areas they're hoping to focus on in the plan, like creating a seniors subdivision for their aging population, as well as some new, more affordable housing divisions to entice more young people to move to the community.
Hobbs said Bishop's Falls has huge potential to be a great spot for young professionals and new families due to it's proximity to Grand Falls-Windsor, and because it's so much cheaper to buy land there.
He said in the last subdivision they built, lots went for under half the price that the same size piece of land in Grand Falls-Windsor would.
"We've had approaches for businesses to come to the area, and we have to have land allocated for that," said Mayor Hobbs. "We'd also like to see our recreation sector grow, and our heritage sector grow."
He added that there's also potential to expand the community park, and mentioned the idea of putting in a wharf for recreational boating.
Lloyd Reid has lived in Bishop's Falls nearly his whole life. He came out to last Saturday's meeting to share his thoughts with the people that will be responsible for developing the place he calls home.
"I feel like we still have a lot to offer in Bishop's Falls. That's why I'm here today, to see what the community holds for the future through the Town and the consultants they've hired," said Reid. He added he thinks with the right approach and support from council, Bishop's Falls could easily attract new businesses and residents.
While Mayor Hobbs said he was a little disappointed more people didn't come out to provide feedback – only about a dozen citizens attended the session – he's pleased with the information they've gathered.
The consultants will now analyze all the information they received from talking to residents, as well as from the surveys they've distributed at the meeting and on Facebook, and try to come up with a new municipal plan for the town.
"After they've done that we'll have another public forum where we will present to the public their proposals and residents will have a chance to respond."
Mayor Hobbs said he expects within the next month or so that Tract will have something together to present to council.
"There's potential here," he said. "And if you just stay the same, you end up going behind."
If residents would like to provide feedback to the Town of Bishop's Falls for it's new municipal plan, they can contact the town office or fill out the survey on the Town's Facebook page.