McDougall joins planning commission


Last updated 5/5/2023 at 5pm

Photo by Ceili Gatley

Sarah McDougall has been appointed to the Sisters Planning Commission.

Sarah McDougall always gets involved in her community, wherever she is. She got especially involved in Sisters when she moved here in 2020, after living in Bend for 14 years.

McDougall knew for a long time that she wanted to move to Sisters, after seeing Bend turning into a place more like the places they moved to Bend from.

"We came out to Sisters and saw everything being built, and how there may be an opportunity for us to live here. The neighborhood we saw was full of trees, and we had no idea some of these places were here," said McDougall.

McDougall had had a 20-year career in IT programming for FIS Global, a Fortune 500 company. After moving to Bend, McDougall got involved with nonprofits, served as the executive director for Tour Deschutes, and worked in event management.

"I got a lot of great experience from that but also learned events are a lot of work," she said.

Her desire to engage has been part of her make-up since she was young.

"It's a great way to get out and meet people; getting involved gives us something to do. It came naturally to me to get involved," she said.

McDougall has served on volunteer boards for non-profits. When she came to Sisters, she knew it would be an opportunity to do something productive, with the town being smaller than anywhere else she lived. She first joined the parks board and loved getting an introduction to the community and city government.

"I was really interested in housing and how to create more affordable housing here, and there was a committee for that, but it is now absorbed into the Planning Commission," she said.

McDougall began attending City Council meetings and learning what was planned for housing in the community, particularly for the houseless community.

When election time came, McDougall ran for the City Council.

"It seemed like the next step and what people would do, and I wanted to be involved," she said.

McDougall was not voted in to serve on the Council, but she still planned on continuing her journey, and applied for the planning commission.

"There were 15 people that applied for one position, and a lot of people were interested, so I wasn't selected for that, but I found other ways to be involved and still attended meetings and worked a lot with Citizens4Community," she said.

But McDougall had an opportunity arise when City of Sisters Development Director Scott Woodford called her saying a spot on the Planning Commission had come open.

"I said, oh crap, I had already agreed to be the president of C4C (Citizens4Community), but I knew I wanted to be involved on the Planning Commission, and I would just figure it out," said McDougall.

She was appointed to the position. McDougall has yet to attend an official Planning Commission meeting but will be ready for her first one when the Planning Commission convenes in May.

She is stepping onto a commission that is at the center of community concerns - even alarm - about growth and development.

"The more I learned, the more I realized how it all works, and I can understand why the community is upset about certain issues," she said, "but there are no evil forces at work within the City; they are doing their best for the community."

McDougall spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on the community, with the changing economy and how changes due to the pandemic trigger responses to development. McDougall plans to continue working with housing and the houseless community and learning all she can, as most decisions that go to the City Council go through the Planning Commission first.

"It will be interesting to be involved with the City, working on retrofitting the Comprehensive Plan and Development Code. People want to see that happen, and we can help achieve those goals and make it reachable and understandable in how the city government works," she said.

McDougall sees community involvement in a straightforward way:

"I am just a concerned citizen like many others, and if you have time to put into it, I would say to lean in and learn and commit,"

she said.


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