Under the laws governing municipal governments, elected Council’s must develop and institute, by Bylaw, an Official Community Plan (OCP). An OCP is a forward-looking guidance document that establishes the vision for a community and the objectives and policies that will assist Council and community members to achieve that vision.
An OCP must, by provincial law, have statements and explicit map designations which clearly show how the City will develop residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, agricultural, recreational, and public utility land use. It must also include housing policies that outline how the City will enable affordable and accessible housing to be built in the community and how greenhouse gas reductions will be achieved through explicit policies and actions.
OCP’s are large, detailed foundational documents that establish the visionary framework, objectives and policies to guide the decision-making of present and future Councils. The OCP also establishes the legal framework for all land use decisions within the municipal boundary, which is achieved through a master Zoning Bylaw. Once passed into law (i.e. after Final Reading of OCP and Zoning Bylaws), elected Councils can only make modifications to these two foundational documents through formal Bylaw amendments that require a public hearing.
Over the past two years, Council and City staff have been working on a new OCP for the City of Quesnel. There have been a number of opportunities for public input into the drafting of the new OCP and Zoning Bylaw, but we’re now entering the decisive stages of this process and there is a final, very important, window for further public input prior to establishing these documents in law.
As noted in the preface to the proposed new OCP, this document is intended to take us through to 2030 and is predicated on the fact that we are a community in transition. Therefore, the new OCP is informed by our rebranding strategy, strategic initiatives established by Council, and an optimistic outlook for our City.
The major areas of change within the proposed OCP include: a higher value placed on First Nations reconciliation and collaboration; hazardous area designations for the West Quesnel Land Stability Study area and floodplain areas in the City; new housing opportunities, including enabling secondary suites throughout the City and secondary dwellings and densification in specifically zoned areas; urban agriculture opportunities related to food security and sustainability (e.g. bees and backyard hens); FireSmart best practice recommendations; changes to achieve updates to environment and sustainability objectives; and, a number of important zoning changes that will impact commercial, agricultural, and residential properties.
At this week’s Council meeting the draft OCP and Zoning Bylaws were presented to Council for their consideration and further refinement. These large documents can now be found on the City’s website at www.quesnel.ca/ocp2030 and a print version is available for review at City Hall. You can submit your written feedback to the City by November 21, 2019.
An Open House will be held on November 21 in City Hall Council Chambers, at which time questions, concerns and feedback can be directed to staff. This session will also provide the public with more details about other Council strategic initiatives that are related to the OCP; such as our new waterfront strategy and new housing strategy. The public can also give direct feedback to Council at a formal Public Hearing scheduled for December 3 at 5 pm in Council Chambers.
Council’s intent is to give Final Reading to the new OCP and Zoning Bylaws at their Regular Council meeting on December 17. As per the law, you have until December 3 to have your say at the Public Hearing on the draft documents and influence the final version of the City’s new OCP and Zoning Bylaws.
I hope you’ll engage us in an informed way during this process.