Initial draft of South Hill's LAP very "hands-on"

Nathan Liewicki
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A group of people, including Moose Jaw Wakamow MLA Greg Lawrence, examines a series of maps pertaining to South Hill's Land Area Plan at Thursday evening's public meeting at the Sportsman Centre. 

Introductions were made and winter plans were revealed before Thursday’s South Hill Community Association meeting.

“I am off to Palm Springs for four months,” retorted Brian Bell, president of Heritage Moose Jaw. “It’s only nine more sleeps away.”

With a simple, light-hearted bit of humour, the meeting began with a look at the collaborative decision-making process and foundations for success associated with the release of the first draft of the association’s Local Area Plan (LAP).

The product of four community meetings and months of consultation with South Hill residents, the LAP was on full display for about 30 people at the Sportsman Centre.

“It’s the first time everybody has come together to see all of the themes together,” said Lenore Swystun, a spokesperson for Prairie Wild Consulting. “Now everyone gets a chance to look at all of the themes and set strategies.”

Prairie Wild Consulting is the firm overseeing the LAP process – a process that Swystun described as very “hands on.” That is because the meeting’s attendees went around to different locations noting ideas under the 12 themes that make up the LAP.

Some of those themes include Our Valley Connections, Housing and Infill Development and Neighbourhood Culture and Heritage.

“The community is literally writing the plan and finding the right path for each of the themes,” she said. “It really is the community’s pens on the paper that is driving this thing.”

The pens – and markers – Swystun referred to were jotting notes and drawing arrows on geo-spatial maps, which University of Saskatchewan (U of S) regional and urban planning students are involved with.

Raquel Wenarchuk was one of two U of S students taking part in South Hill’s LAP at Thursday’s meeting. Originally from Moose Jaw, Wenarchuk told the Times-Herald that the process is all about engaging the community.

“I didn’t realize how the long the process for this was before we started, but it’s great to be able to see people look over local area planning and make suggestions on what can be done to improve communities,” said Wenarchuk.

Scribbled down in purple marker under the theme of Social Development Inclusion were two points: neighbourhood watch programs and promoting and expanding Yara Community Gardens.

On a nearby table where discussions regarding Green Municipal Services and Infrastructure took place, two points were also noticeable: increasing housing density and recycling stations in front of businesses.

One of the maps on another table even proposed urban development in Wakamow Valley. Whether that occurs in the coming years remains to be seen, but the idea is out there.

Carolyn Bowler was one of the South Hill residents at the meeting. She said she attended it because she loves the culture of the area and wants to see it improve.

“I feel like I am part of maintaining the culture of South Hill,” said Bowler. “I’m proud of our uniqueness, while also hoping to bring new opportunities to South Hill.”

More LAP details are expected to emerge in January. At that time documentation will be administered in the form of a preliminary report.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Sportsman Centre, University of Saskatchewan, Times-Herald Green Municipal Services

Geographic location: South Hill, Palm Springs, Moose Jaw Yara Community Gardens Wakamow Valley

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