SALT LAKE CITY -- The population in Utah sits at 2.8 million. By 2050 the population in the state is expected to climb as high as 5 million.
Planners are now asking questions about the additional 2 million people expected in the next 40 years. Where are they going to live? Where are they going to work? How will they get around? Those questions have answers, according to a new statewide visioning initiative called Your Utah, Your Future.
"Visioning is an important part of the process. We ought not be afraid to sit down and discuss ideas. We may have differing points of view and that's okay," Gov. Gary Herbert told a crowd of community leaders on hand for the announcement of the new initiative.
Herbert explained that the Your Utah, Your Future project will not be a government-run project, rather it will be privately funded and created by residents, not just the politicians. He said that the project is designed to give Utahns a plan for the future that lays out how they want the state to look as its population continues to expand.
"We the people are going to decide what we want as we meet with our locally elected representatives," he said. "If we don't plan now, 25 years from now we will wish we had."
In his announcement, Herbert said governments can benefit greatly from plans such as this. He noted that Orem city especially could have benefited from future planning proposals like the Your Utah, Your Future project. Herbert explained that if Orem had a better long-term plan in place, the city could have avoided some of the problems it faced when expanding 800 North. Herbert explained the project resulted in forcing the city to purchase private residences so there was enough room for the road to expand -- a situation that could have been prevented had the city planned earlier for population growth.
The Your Utah, Your Future plan will be a comprehensive vision that will address multiple issues the state is expected to face during the next 40 years. The plan will address air quality, water, housing, cost of living, economic development, education, mobility, agriculture, recreation and energy infrastructure. Residents and government leaders will be able to access the plan to see suggestions on how to best provide these needs for the public as the communities across the state continue to grow.
The initiative is being led by an organization known as Envision Utah. Envision Utah created a similar plan in 1997 with then Gov. Mike Leavitt. The plan gathered data from Utah residents to provide local governments information on how their residents want their local cities to look in the future. The nonprofit organization now is hoping to create an expanded vision to make sure Utah has a plan in place to create thriving communities across the state.
Envision Utah is expected now to take the next two years to gather data across through public hearings and meetings with stakeholders across the state. The group will then release a plan in 2015.
Envision Utah CEO, Robert Grow, thanked Herbert for his support in taking the next step to continue the planning efforts for the state. Grow said Herbert was not a governor that would leave the state's future to chance but that he was a governor that looks to plan for the future.