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MEET PATRICK OYSTRYK, City planner for  Abbotsford. 

Q: Why did you become a city planner and what is your role?

Our department creates long-term policy for our community’s future, to guide its development and growth. Essentially, we build communities.

Everyone should have a say in the way that the community is going to grow, change and evolve, which is what ‘Abbotsforward’ is all about. We went to public places to ‘humanize the city planner’ and establish a personal connection. We saw younger people interacting with us and heard their concerns about wanting to stay here, but they were unsure of what the future holds. We set out to involve Abbotsford’s residents and stakeholders so that everyone could get behind our plans. Our plans have to inspire.

Q: Why Abbotsford? Of all the places you could have located to, why here?

I grew up in suburban Winnipeg where I needed a car to get around. I felt isolated because if you didn’t have a car or were too young to drive, you were stuck. I would re-imagine the city as one that was more accessible and provided more choices. Abbotsford held a position where I could advance this vision quickly and that’s what I see wherever I go—opportunity! I am part of building the next phase of the city’s evolution, which is very exciting.

Q: What is your vision for Abbotsford?

I would like to see a range of different neighbourhoods, each with its own character and flavor. This would help younger people and families decide where they want to live and provide a sense of belonging.

We heard residents commonly tell us “Yes! We want to live in a neighbourhood where we can walk to a café, park or grocery store!”

The health of a community is determined by the number of people that are out in their communities, engaging others, meeting their neighbours and chatting with store owners. Spontaneous conversations create a vibrant community.

I love Mill Lake—it’s this hidden gem in the city’s center filled with water, green space and beautiful views of Mt. Baker. And, I see diversity where people from all walks of life come together.

People want to be where other people are.