Students Assist in Planning Fruitvale’s Future

February 21, 2024
Authentic Fruitvale Action Plans One

Laying the groundwork for a vibrant future through broad knowledge and informed action-oriented strategies is the focus of the Authentic Fruitvale Action Plans being put together by second-year students in Selkirk College’s Applied Environmental Science & Planning Technology Program.

Guided by the experienced leadership of instructor Peter Holton, students in the unique Selkirk College program have been providing pro bono planning work for a local government and organizations throughout the region for the last 23 years. Over the last few months, the 19 students in the current cohort have been collecting information on specific topics and preparing draft plans. 

As the process moves into its public engagement phase, students are asking Fruitvale residents to attend an open house on March 12 to familiarize themselves with the draft plans and provide input. The event will take place at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall from 5 pm to 7 pm.

“Fruitvale is a perfect sized village for our students, and village staff and elected officials have been very welcoming and helpful through this process,” says Holton. “Gaining citizen input at our open house will be helpful to students and the village alike.” 

Fruitvale’s various plans, bylaws and studies have identified numerous areas for future study, research, plan development and implementation. The purpose of the Authentic Village Action Plans are to aid in this process that covers a wide range of topics that include: infill and densification; pedestrian safety and traffic flow; re-inhabiting the downtown; housing type options; trails and recreation; urban ecology; water quality and supply; neighborhood plans; pollinator garden; interface planning; air quality; and affordable housing.

Real World Challenges Require Informed Approach

Land use and environmental planning has been the focus of Holton’s career for the past 38 years. Working primarily in rural communities across North America, he has been involved with regional and municipal planning departments doing long-range and current planning. He provides effective planning approaches that address community needs while respecting the philosophies and values of residents. 

Authentic Fruitvale Action Plans Two
Second-year students in Selkirk College’s Applied Environmental Science & Planning Technology Program have been working diligently on the Authentic Fruitvale Action Plan over the last few months. The draft plan is now ready to present at a March 12 open house where community members are encouraged to attend to provide input.

Still an active consultant, Holton has been a member of the School of Environment & Geomatics instructional team since 2001. 

“Working with Selkirk College students and guiding them through these real-world exercises has been the most rewarding part of my career,” he says.

The plan preparation processes that students have been working on are: 

  • Compiling existing data on each selected topic in order to define the relevant issues and guide the development of a focus plan;
  • Gathering information, input and ideas from the public, agencies, residents, landowners, businesses, and elected and appointed officials;
  • Developing a set of planning goals and objectives for each individual topic; 
  • Researching how other entities and jurisdictions address similar issues throughout North America and document technologies and practices appropriate for the college and surrounding areas;
  • Outlining discrete action steps that can be taken to address issues and identify the parties that would be responsible for each action step;
  • Providing order of magnitude cost estimates.

A vital part of the program’s curriculum and outcomes, Holton’s students have worked with almost every community in the region over the last 23 years. Some of the projects include: City of Nelson OCP Implementation Plan; Rossland Trails and Laneways Plan; Castlegar OCP Implementation Plan; Cottonwood Creek Protection Plan; Kootenay Lake Partnership Stewardship Plans; and the Village of Salmo Livable Village Action Plan. 

“The students who choose this program as a springboard to a variety of rewarding careers arrive with different backgrounds of knowledge and specific interests,” says Holton. “They add so much depth through the time they spend in the classroom and the variety of hands-on field work they participate in over the two-year program. I’m always impressed at how students really commit to this particular element of the program by bringing a fresh perspective and earned understanding of the issues. The community partners we work with are well served by this next generation.”

The March 12 open house is open to all Fruitvale residents. Final plans will be completed in April and presented to the village later this spring. For more information, please email Peter Holton.  

Learn more about the School of Environment & Geomatics.

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