OFFICIAL COMMUNITY PLAN REVIEW PROJECT
The process to review the City’s Official Community Plan is underway!
If you have questions about the project or the process, please contact the Planning Department by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250.803.4010.
What is an Official Community Plan (OCP)?
An OCP provides the overall vision and direction for the future of the community – how the community sees itself growing and developing over time, and ultimately what kind of place the community will be. This community driven vision is balanced with expected population growth, opportunities for development and the availability of resources for infrastructure projects.
The current Official Community Plan (OCP) was approved by Council in November 2011, is approaching 12 years old, and needs to be reviewed and rewritten to reflect both current circumstances (that may have changed a lot since 2010/2011), and the current wishes of the community. Much has changed in the community since the OCP was approved, and the new OCP will reflect those changes and establish how the community wants to grow and change in the future. Community change is inevitable, and an OCP can help a community manage and direct how it wants that change to occur.
How and when will the public review process happen?
The City will engage a consultant in the Fall of 2023 to design, and then implement a process of public engagement through the latter part of 2023 and well into 2024. City staff will be working with the consultant to direct the public engagement, and will begin to write the new document in late 2024, with planned approval by Council of a new OCP in early 2025. The City and its’ consultant will be looking to engage as many in the community as possible, at a variety of events and locations and in a variety of methods.
The City will also be recruiting members of the public to sit on an OCP Steering Committee, whose main role will be to ensure that the policy that is drafted in the new OCP is reflective of the public input that is received. Public notices regarding the Steering Committee recruitment will be coming out in late Summer 2023. The links below provide some background on the Steering Committee and the application form to become a member.
- OCP Steering Committee Background (pdf)
- OCP Steering Committee Terms of Reference (pdf)
- OCP Steering Committee Application (pdf): Deadline for application submission is September 29, 2023 at 4:00pm.
Robust public engagement and feedback will be essential to develop a new OCP document that provides a vision and direction that is connected to the wishes of the community. It is the City's goal to engage residents of all ages and walks of life to participate in a wide number of activities over the life of the review. If there is no “buy-in” from the community regarding the direction provided by the OCP, it is unlikely that the new OCP will be successful or implemented effectively.
A general outline of the process through 2023 and into 2025 is shown in the following chart (which will get more detailed as the process evolves):
Who will be consulted in the development of the plan?
Collectively, it is expected that hundreds of individuals, businesses, stakeholders, agencies, and jurisdictions will offer their views throughout the OCP process and inform specific ideas in the plan. Some organizations such as First Nations, the School District and the Agricultural Land Commission are required by law to be consulted in the development of the OCP, while others are at the discretion of Mayor and Council.
What is the difference between a Zoning Bylaw and the Official Community Plan (OCP)?
The Zoning Bylaw contains a detailed set of rules that are very specific about land use, density, building heights, setbacks and other issues such as landscaping and site coverage requirements as they relates to a property. The OCP is more strategic and often less detailed about specific sites. For instance, the OCP may say "this property will be a future growth area for high density housing" where the Zoning Bylaw will say that a building on that specific property can be an apartment, may not be more than 10 m tall, cover more than 45% of the property, and must be 5 metres back from the street.
How is an OCP used? Who does it affect?
All City policies, plans and regulations must be in alignment with the OCP Bylaw, so it is a powerful guide for Town decision-making. An effective OCP provides clear direction but does not preclude change to the plan based on evolving circumstances or interpretation of policies by Council and staff. In this way, an OCP is often considered a "living document".
Council, staff, developers and professionals (architects, engineers, planners, landscape architects, etc.) use the OCP to understand what the community wants as it relates to the delivery of housing and other land uses (types, character), transportation services, infrastructure and amenities. They also use the OCP to understand which areas are suitable for development and which are not (environmentally sensitive areas, steep slopes, hazardous areas, etc.).
The public can use the OCP to gain a better understanding of local issues and how they are planned to be addressed or what changes may happen in their neighbourhood. The OCP will also provide direct guidance to how land is zoned and developed in the community, and will inform the review of the City’s Zoning Bylaw that is scheduled to start once the new OCP is in place.
Why is there such a focus on land use and development policy?
Provincial legislation (the Local Government Act) outlines the purpose, required content and discretionary content of an Official Community Plan (OCP). The purpose of an OCP, under this legislation, is a "statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management," but can also extend into other areas and issues including environmental protection of sensitive areas, economic development, energy conservation and efficiency and culture and heritage. Council and the community can decide what issues that they would like their OCP to address. The current OCP has sections dedicated to the following issues: