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Linking visual preferences to planning sustainably : using stormwater management in a rural community as a case study Achiam, Cecilia Maria

Abstract

While many communities have readily adopted "sustainability" as one of the community objectives in their planning documents, the actual application of sustainable practices has proven to be challenging for planners and communities. Some of the primary reasons for these challenges may include: • the disconnect between communities visual preferences and sustainable landscapes; • the limitations of current public consultation processes to solicit representational and meaningful input from the community due to the "shopping list" approach to developing official community plans encouraged by the Local Government Act; • the failure of conventional public consultation processes to reach certain segments of the community because of cultural differences or reluctance to publicly "speak one's mind"; and • the difficulties in the prioritization of the information from the public consultation processes into holistic planning policies. In the mean time, current research from various disciplines has established evidence to suggest incongruence between visual preferences and ecologically sustainable landscapes: preference for specific landscape typologies does not seem to be affected by the ecological performance of the landscape. The gap in ecological knowledge about sustainability may have contributed to this situation. The bridging of this gap between knowledge and preference was explored through the application of visual preferences for stormwater management in a rural context. The coastal community of Royston on Vancouver Island was used as a case study for a visual preference survey pilot project. The survey results were synthesized to identify a community aesthetic for Royston and to transform into criteria for selecting sustainable stormwater management best management practices that are appropriate to a rural community to reflect: • the community's preferred aesthetic based on the results from the visual preference survey to promote better acceptance of sustainable working landscapes; • the goals and objectives, and the policies adopted in the Royston Local Area Plan; • the economic realities of a small community; and • flexibility to address new development needs and the necessity to "retrofit" stormwater management practices into existing developments

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