During the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Summit on Thursday, officials from Envision Utah gave a presentation regarding the Valley Visioning report that is set to be released next week.
The report accounts for projected massive population growth in the area by 2050, addressing questions in regards to where current residents want to see the growth, how the growth should be brought in, ways to accommodate without expending natural resources and more.
The visioning report started the first phase with a series of public workshops spread out in the valley to get input on what people are looking for with the expected growth to come to Utah County.
Over 2,700 people chimed in through an online survey and at the workshops.
Residents worked on maps to show where they would want to see the expected doubling in population by 2050, including living spaces, jobs and transportation.
“We had people work on maps, we had them draw transportation improvements, but maybe more important, we had real and authentic conversations with residents about how they see the future of Utah County,” said Ryan Beck, Envision Utah’s vice president of planning.
People were then asked to prioritize outcomes they wanted to see in Utah County in regards to the 2050 deadline. These potential outcomes included managing water, improving transportation, reducing air pollution, improving the education system, creating good jobs, housing affordability, preserving agriculture and opening space for recreation.
“We’re looking at the year 2050 doubling in population, and basically, we figured it boiled down to seven things that Utah County residents said they wanted,” Beck said. “They want wise water management so we have enough water for all our needs; they want to be able to get around conveniently; they want to breathe clean air; they want everybody to have the opportunity to get a good education; they want housing options; they want some local agriculture to remain; and then, they want open space and recreational opportunities.”
The next step in the process revolves around making those prospective outcomes a reality.
It boils down to five ways to make all of those things that Utah County residents found important happen, including a network of walkable, mixed-use sites that combine jobs, housing and transportation into one place to create a “Main Street” environment.
Next comes the need for a variety of market-based neighborhood and housing types to ensure that people can find the living situation they are looking for and can afford. Another key aspect is investing in well-maintained highway transit and active transportation structures that keep up with growth.
Lastly, comes a good education system and increased efficiency. Efficiency refers to landscaping, car usage, infrastructure, buildings, and the need to save water and reduce emissions.
With this vision in place, 51,201 total acres would be used, a sharp contrast in comparison to the projected 90,955 acres the county would need to use if its population continues to grow the way it has over the past 20 years.
“These are accommodating the same total populations,” said Ari Bruening, Envision Utah president and CEO. “Just looking at the total amount of new land that we would develop, you can see a significant difference. Probably most significant is we use up a lot less agricultural land, there’s a lot more farm land in 2050.”
The vision also cuts emissions in half while giving residents better access to local parks, schools and transit stops.
“All of that saves people money, about $3,000 a year through driving less, spending less on utilities and we use a lot less water per person,” Bruening said.
The complete plan is set to be released on Tuesday during a press conference where Gov. Gary Herbert will speak alongside other local and state officials.