OCP tweaks in the works

Expected growth scaled back to .5 per cent in draft document

Tweaks in language, spelling and terminology dominate alterations to the draft Official Community Plan for Oak Bay as it heads toward public hearing this fall.

Council made a handful of official alterations June 9 as part of the OCP review process Mayor Nils Jensen says, “isn’t a sprint. It’s a series of marathons.”

Two larger changes are in direct response to comments heard at the final public open house late last month.

 

One small number equates to one large change. The expected growth, stated at one per cent throughout the early portion of the official community plan review process, will revert back to .5 per cent. That number reflects the expected growth in both the current OCP and the Regional Growth Strategy.

A .5 per cent annual growth would mean about 90 new residents or 36 new housing units per year.

 

That relates to the second dominant change, creating clear language to assuage the concerns over infill building or densification of the community.

“The concept of ‘intensive development’ can’t describe Oak Bay in any way,” said Mayor Nils Jensen. “The way we will be using it is to look at the infill possibilities in a very gentle way, but before we get to that stage we have to come to terms with what it would look like.

“It’s a tool, a valuable tool, that can’t be used until we have developed housing policies and form policies as to what we want our established neighbourhoods to look like.”

The draft OCP is expected to go to public hearing in September. But the real work, council feels, will begin after the plan is in place.

“We have to develop guidelines for that,” Jensen said. “The next step isn’t just to start approving developments … This will create a huge volume of work in the future, but will benefit our community and neighbourhoods in the long run.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com