What is an Official Community Plan?

    The Official Community Plan (OCP) is a tool for managing change in our community. The OCP sets out land use categories and approximate locations and densities of land uses. It is adopted as a Bylaw and serves as an overarching vision and framework to assist Council in its decision-making process.

    It provides direction on:

    • Land use
    • Growth management
    • Design of the built environment
    • Protection of the environment
    • Climate action
    • Transportation and mobility
    • Marine policy and management
    • Economic development
    • Infrastructure
    • Community amenities and greenspace
    • Community and social wellness

    Why will the OCP review take two years to complete?

    In order to build a vision for the next 20 years, we will need to hear from District residents, organizations and businesses throughout the review.

    What is a land use designation?

    A land use designation delineates on a map the location and types of land use such as residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, agricultural and recreational. These land use designations correspond with objectives and policies for these associated areas within the OCP.

    How can I get involved?

    The Official Community Plan (OCP) plays an important role in the community and as a result we want to have as many people involved throughout the process. Everyone is invited to have input in the development of the plan. At each phase (there are five phases), we will have information posted about the process and how the plan is taking shape. There will be multiple ways to participate including surveys, in-person or online forums, self-guided assignments and more. For people with limited access to technology, printed surveys can be picked up at municipal hall and a planner is always available for a phone conversation.

    Why review the OCP during the COVID 19 pandemic?

    Adopted in 2007, our OCP is intended to be adapted and amended to respond to evolving conditions, emerging trends and community needs.  Generally, OCPs should be fully reviewed every 5 years to ensure they remain current and respond to emerging trends and issues. While responding to COVID-19 is our top priority right now, it’s important that we move ahead with long-term planning for a resilient future. 

    We have been adapting how we do engagement through the pandemic to allow people to easily access information and provide multiple opportunities for participation. At the end of each phase, we evaluate the level of participation and produce an engagement summary report. The results of the engagement summary for each phase inform any adaptations necessary to respond to the current situation and next phase. These adaptations are then included as part of the engagement plan for the upcoming phase. 

    How does it affect me?

    The OCP is the District’s overarching policy framework. It guides how housing needs are met, where businesses and services are located, how parks are used, and how we protect the environment.

    How will other initiatives contribute to the OCP?

    In addition to public feedback, the updated OCP will align with the other plans and policies that have been adopted or are currently under development. This includes, but is not limited to the:

    • Regional Growth Strategy (2018)
    • Active Transportation Plan (2021)
    • Whole Community Agricultural Strategy Implementation Plan (2019)
    • Sea Level Rise Planning
    • Child Care Action Plan (2020)
    • Housing Needs Report (2020)
    • Tree Protection Bylaw Review (2021)
    • Climate Change Select Committee Report (2020) 
    • Marine Task Force Report (2008)

    A more comprehensive list of documents can be found in Appendix C of the Community Profile. The review of our OCP may identify new priorities that require us to update current policy. Until that time existing policies guiding our community will remain in effect.

    What is the OCP Advisory Working Group?

    The OCP Advisory Working Group (AWG) provides feedback to District staff and our consultant (Project Team). It is composed of community members and representatives from a broad cross-section of the community in order to provide a diversity of insights based on knowledge of key areas of the plan and a diversity of demographic backgrounds and lived experiences. See the AWG Terms of Reference and the AWG Composition Summary.

    Why are the meetings not open to the public?

    The AWG is a working group appointed by staff, to work with the Project Team. As the AWG was not established by bylaw, or appointed by Council, it is not subject to the requirements that the meetings be open to the public. The intention with the closed meetings is to create a space for AWG members to speak openly and provide candid feedback to the Project Team for the OCP review. Detailed meeting notes, agendas and presentations are posted under Documents on the OCP Project Page to ensure transparency of the topics and discussions taking place.

    Who is on the OCP AWG?

    The AWG is composed of 14 members, 4 representative members from the District’s Commissions (Community Planning Commission, Community Agricultural Commission, Community Stewardship Commission and the former Climate Change Select Committee) as well as 1 Council observer. The working group members bring a variety of skills, experience and perspective including marine, agricultural, public engagement, community and social wellness and housing. A list of members can be found on the OCP Project Page.

    Why is the District planning for new housing when we are a rural community?

    The Local Government Act requires an OCP to include statements, approximate locations, amount, type and density of residential development (new housing) required to meet anticipated housing needs for at least five years. The District must also consider the most recent Housing Needs Report when developing an official community plan. Section 4.5 of the Housing Needs Report outlines the Household Projections. Section 7.0 provides a summary of key areas of local need.

    An OCP must also include policies for affordable housing, rental housing and special need housing. The OCP must work towards alignment with the purpose and goals referred to in the Capital Regional District Regional Growth Strategy.

    How does an OCP help us reach community goals?

    The OCP guides the District’s decisions on planning and land use management within the areas covered by the plan. After its adoption, all bylaws and initiatives should work towards consistency with the OCP.

    Public, stakeholder and First Nations engagement occurs throughout the development of an OCP to identify key issues and priorities. This input helps to formulate the goals and policies within the Plan. The OCP is a “living document” and does not preclude change to the Plan based on evolving circumstances, community needs, or interpretation of policies by Council and staff.

    What if there was no OCP?

    Without an OCP the District has little control over development and land use. The OCP guides development and coordination of District services, which supports planning of new infrastructure and amenities .Essentially, the growth of the District would be poorly planned and managed and the District would not be able to strategically address emerging issues such as climate change, an ageing population or protection of the environment.

    Who uses an OCP?

    Residents, developers, businesses, and community groups use the OCP to learn about where and how future growth may occur. Council is guided by the OCP when making decisions about zoning, development and servicing.

    What is the difference between the Official Community Plan and the Zoning Bylaw?

    The OCP is a high-level visionary document. It is more strategic and less prescriptive defining policies for future land use and development rather than specific sites. The OCP designates what land uses (i.e., residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) go where within the District. 

    The Zoning Bylaw is a regulatory tool that is very specific about land use and creates zones which describes what kind of building already exists or what a landowner is entitled to build. A zone typically contains regulations related to uses, density (lot coverage), height, building siting (where it is located on a lot) and other issues such as parking. An update to the Zoning Bylaw will follow the OCP review.

    How do other regional and municipal plans relate to the District's OCP?

    A Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is developed in partnership with municipalities and the regional district and provides a framework for guiding decisions on regional issues such as transportation, growth and settlement patterns. 

    The OCP, is influenced by (and must work towards consistency with) the Capital Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy. More specifically the Regional Context Statement (RCS) identifies the relationship between the OCP and the RGS. The RCS addresses how the OCP’s local planning and land use policy will work towards the objectives, policies and targets identified in the RGS.

    Within the jurisdiction of the District, the OCP provides the highest level of direction for managing land use and development. All bylaws and initiatives must work towards consistency with the OCP and municipal policies and plans should align with the overall goals, objectives, and policies in the Plan.

    The Community Profile, within Appendix C outlines the Regional Plans and District Plans to be considered during the OCP Review.

    When was the District's OCP last updated?

    The last major update to the District’s OCP occurred in 2007, however there have been 14 revisions since that date. These changes are summarized on page 3 of the Official Community Plan Review – Scope and Proposed Approach

    Updating the OCP provides the District with an opportunity to update policies to address current challenges such as climate change, community growth and land use, housing affordability, agriculture and food security and others. Retaining past policies that were identified as working well while creating new policies that better reflect these contemporary challenges, the OCP is able to shape future growth to achieve the community’s vision for a sustainable future.

    Why is public input needed?

    The Local Government Act requires municipalities to consult with the public, stakeholders, government agencies and First Nations when an OCP is developed or revised.

    Municipalities must provide one or more opportunities for consultation with the community, organizations, and authorities that will be affected. This required consultation effort is in addition to the requirements for a formal public hearing, and many municipalities go beyond the minimum level of engagement when completing an OCP review because of its importance to citizens and stakeholders.

    District staff have already started by engaging the public, stakeholders, and First Nations in the first phase of the OCP update process using a variety of techniques that allowed meaningful participant feedback. See the Phase 1 Engagement Summary. This input will help shape the OCP's goals and policies and help to ensure that the OCP reflects the overall ideas and aspirations of the community. The aim of the OCP Review process is to engage residents of all ages and walks of life to participate as part of an ongoing community dialogue that will carry on through the implementation of the OCP.