Cultural Scan Enhances Community Planning

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The City of Kelowna has experienced rapid growth and a changing demographic in recent years. The challenge to the city is to ensure that arts and culture remain a factor in the community's long-range planning.

The cultural scan was made possible through the Creative Communities program at 2010 Legacies Now and it documented nearly 600 local arts and cultural assets.

One important result of the scan is that significant progress was made to integrate arts and culture into overall community planning and the delivery of services to residents and visitors alike."The cultural dimension is increasingly considered within other planning initiatives such as streetscape design and transportation planning'," said Sandra Kochan, cultural services manager with the City of Kelowna. "Arts facilities are businesses that welcome 200,000 people through their doors in a year. That can have a huge impact on planning transit and pedestrian routes. "

As part of the cultural scan process, the City of Kelowna held eight public consultations with local residents to learn how quality of life is impacted by culture.

"Our community doesn't think of culture as just the arts," said Kochan. "It relates to streetscapes, heritage and how the city functions. The cultural scan was a positive and rewarding way to have a dialogue with residents about what arts and culture means to them."

2010 Legacies Now, with support from the Province of British Columbia, has invested more than $300,000 into 37 Creative Communities projects around the province. The goal is to use cultural planning as a way of developing the creative sector so that it can achieve social and economic objectives.

Recently, the cultural scan database was used in the Central Okanagan's Vital Signs Report, which provides indicators on the general quality of life in Canadian communities.

Creative Communities assists local governments to take stock of their cultural assets and identify strengths and challenges in their local arts and cultural sector. The program also guides governments through community consultations to determine how and where to expand local arts and cultural programs and projects.

Funding is available for these cultural mapping and cultural planning processes to help communities discover a cultural identity that is unique to them and expand it into a viable part of community life. The program is supported by the Province of British Columbia.