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How does an Official Community Plan (OCP) help us reach our community goals?

An OCP provides a blueprint for decision-making.  All municipal policies, plans, and regulations must be in alignment with the OCP. So, it is a valuable guide to support and coordinate all District activities so that the community moves forward in a coordinated fashion. Once adopted by Council, an OCP does not prevent change to the plan based on emergent issues or new information. In this way, an OCP is referred to as a “living document”.

 

It’s about Community Planning…

When a community starts a process of planning for the future, many factors must be considered, including the economy, the environment, housing and growth, and cultural and transportation needs, for example. Planners also must understand current uses of existing buildings, roads, and facilities in the community, as well as how these uses may affect livability of the community in the future.

When thinking about growth, anticipating, and organizing future land uses is critical. This includes thinking about potential problems that could arise and coming up with solutions to avoid them. For example, it would be a bad idea for a community Planner to support a land fill facility that was being proposed to be built next to a park. The land fill could become a health threat to any citizen who wanted to use the park. What good would the park serve if nobody could use it safely or comfortably?

In British Columbia, plans that set out the future direction for a community are called “official community plans” (shortened to “OCPs”). Essentially every community in BC has an OCP.  Each one is created locally and is customized to reflect the unique character and community aspirations of its citizens. The Province of British Columbia, through the Local Government Act, specifies the scope of content that can be included in an OCP as well as the general process that must be followed by local governments in preparing or updating one.  An Official Community Plan provides guidance and direction to Council, investors and the community at large on a variety of topics, including land use, urban design, housing, transportation, parks and public spaces, social planning, cultural infrastructure, heritage and community facilities. An official community plan provides a “blueprint” for facilitating positive change and development over a period of approximately 20 years. However, official community plans are not intended to be “carved in stone”.  Every plan needs to be able to respond to emerging issues, while providing a reliable framework for mid-to-long-term, community-based decisions.