Queen Charlotte official plan in the works

  • Feb. 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Want to build a four-story tower on top of your home, keep a cow in the yard or paint your buildings popsicle pink? How about open a small sawmill beside your house or run a small farm? All these topics may or may not fall under the purview of Queen Charlotte’s Official Community Plan, now being developed by an advisory planning commission, made up of five volunteer members of the public. An Official Community Plan lays out objectives and policies which will guide decisions on planning and land use management within the municipality. The process of putting together a plan for the municipality has been underway since 2006 and committee members expect the document to be released in the next couple of months. The Observer went to one of the committee’s weekly meetings on Feb. 19 at the village office, and was allowed to observe, but not take away any documents the committee has produced. “The Official Community Plan is not a public document until it’s been brought to council,” said APC chair Clyde Greenough. Other members include Ruth Wheadon, Bruce Ives, Jacques Morin and Keith Moore. QC Council representative Kris Olsen attends the meetings as does QC administrator Andrew Yeates. An earlier OCP was written in Queen Charlotte in 1993 and all amendments were consolidated in 2001. The committee has been reviewing other community’s OCPs, such as those written in Bamfield and Hornby Island, but will be producing a unique plan. “The committee wanted a made in Queen Charlotte plan,” said Mr. Yeates. Members talked about creating a method to measure quality of life in Queen Charlotte by coming up with key indicators. Mr. Moore questioned where an economic development strategy for the town should fit in. He wondered whether this type of strategy should be driving the OCP. Economic development was then included in a list of possible future studies. Also included were zoning studies, a parks, recreation and culture master plan, a community energy plan and more. Energy efficiency was discussed with members suggesting the village develop a package to give to developers which would offer standards and rebate information. Members acknowledged they were interested in focusing on sustainability in the plan. Sensitive areas, groundwater, parking, biking and walking trail assessments were also discussed, but nothing in the working document is final yet. When the committee agrees to the wording of the draft OCP, it will go to the next step. “All the work is being done and then it will be brought to council. If council is on side it will go public,” said Mr. Morin. The committee has not decided on what the public process will look like either. It could take the form of a symposium with different table set up, or the committee may present the document to different interest groups, rather than have a traditional public meeting. “This is a point to start the discussion with the community,” said Mr. Yeates of the public process. According to a Smart Growth Guide found on West Coast Environmental Law’s website. The OCP is more of a vision statement that a source of binding authority for land use. Restrictions on building density, tree cutting and vegetation retention would be controlled by zoning bylaws and permits rather than the OCP. “However, an OCP may limit a landowner’s development rights by designating development permit areas and heritage conservation areas and by providing direction which a subdivision approving officer may take into account,” the report states.

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