Typically when you start talking about official community plans and urban containment boundaries most people’s eyes start to drift shut.
It sounds so bureaucratic, doesn’t it?
Just more of that paperwork that you’re glad it’s not actually your job to wade through.
Even around council tables it’s been known to garner the response of glazed eyes and the occasional yawn.
But not so fast.
The reality of what we’re talking about when we use these terms can become bitterly divisive very quickly if we don’t try to understand it and voice our opinions on it as the rules are being made.
There are a number of cases-in-point taking place in North Cowichan at present, notably in the Maple Bay area.
It’s not all about general apathy on the part of the public in this case, as some changes were made rather swiftly under the radar to official community plans and urban containment boundaries, something that council has acknowledged as a problem and walked back for more community consultation.
But most of the time people don’t get involved and make little effort to understand this stuff until they are outraged by a development proposal in their neighbourhood.
It doesn’t hit home until we’re talking about next door.
It’s important to understand that just because you’re currently surrounded by fields, or use a vacant lot next to you regularly to walk your dog, doesn’t mean that’s what the land is zoned for and what the end use might be.
In other words, unless that vacant lot is officially a park, don’t get too attached.
And don’t be surprised if a developer proposes to build multi-family housing there.
Urban containment boundaries are vital. An understanding of where you want more houses and more businesses to go is key to the future of the community.
And having a plan, and, well, boundaries that everyone is aware of are also key to the happiness of the people within that community.
A well-thought-out future should include areas of differing density and purpose.
Where are the farms? Where is the industrial land? Where is the housing? Large lots? Small lots? Where is the business development?
It’s clear that the municipality needs to do a better job in the future of communicating where such areas will be.
It’s also up to residents to become more informed. Then we can work better together for our collective future.