Since starting the extensive process of updating the town's Land-Use Bylaw, Cochrane senior planner Riley Welden has been stressing the importance of the document and encouraging people to become involved in the process.
The current battle over the location of day home in the Riversong neighbourhood is a good example of why residents should be offering input.
"The recent issue with the day homes that has been getting a bit of traction within the town certainly is just one of many, many, many land-use topics that are regulated and handled through our land-use bylaw," says Welden. "It is a very important document in terms of how land is used and how land is developed throughout the entire community, whether it's downtown or within a residential neighbourhood."
"I'm hoping that people, through this opportunity, can come and provide input on that specific topic because we are interested in what people think about it."
The town's subdivision appeal board is currently scheduled for June 21 to render a decision on whether to allow the day home to operate. Concern over traffic and noise the operation would create has been expressed by some neighbouring residents and day homes are a discretionary use subject to appeal.
With phase one of the public consultation completed, one Welden affectionately called Planning 101 and Land-Use 101, now there's the opportunity to delve into specific issues.
"I had a number of sessions through the course of April and May and now we're moving into the more formal engagement phase, which is basically having residents and businesses let us know what is working well and what isn't working well in the town as it relates to the land-use bylaw and land use and development in general."
"We're really excited to be entering this new phase, which is finding out what people think and getting information from them."
Two review workshops are being held this week, both at the Cochrane Alliance Church, 902 Glenbow Dr. Wednesday, June 13 will have a business-focus and the Thursday, June 14 will have a residential focus. Both run from 7 to 9 p.m. and childcare is available.
It's being conducted in what's now commonly called a world cafe style. They'll be a basic overview provided and then people will break into tables of four or five to discuss specific topics for 15 minutes, then head to the next table.
There will be an opportunity for people to bring up other issues if their topic of interest isn't listed at any of the tables. That includes day homes.
"Absolutely," says Welden. "Those are the kinds of things and the information and the input that we are looking for from the public. Day homes, in particular, and how the town currently regulates those is absolutely up for discussion and it is something the land-use bylaw does regulate."
Another contentious issue is parking. both in commercial and residential areas and historically is a predominant discussion when it does finally reach council for final approval.
The planning department is in the midst of completing a downtown parking study, the results of which Welden says they hope to bring forward to council as early as this summer. Work like this will be taken into consideration when drafting the new land-use bylaw.
"Based on results that information will definitely be feeding into the land-use bylaw and any changes that may come about to the parking regulations in the land-use bylaw."