After years of work and consultations, the Cowichan Valley Regional District has finally adopted the official community plan for its electoral areas.
The adoption of the OCP creates a single guiding document for the nine unincorporated communities of the Cowichan region.
The electoral areas of the CVRD were formerly guided by seven distinct OCPs, making it difficult for developers, residents and district planners to navigate the development application process, and ultimately leading to inequity between the various areas.
Combined with the recent pressures of growth, climate change, water scarcity and economic development, the electoral areas required a central master plan, according to a press release.
“With the adoption of this harmonized OCP, we are stronger as a region to confront the many forces confronting all corners of the Cowichan,” said Lori Iannidinardo, chairwoman of the electoral area services committee and director for Cowichan Bay.
“I am incredibly proud of my fellow directors, CVRD staff, our advisory planning commissions and the many residents who all worked together to achieve this common goal and steer our collective Cowichan communities towards a brighter future.”
The Official Community Plan for the electoral areas is the first of its kind for a regional district in British Columbia, resolving a history of fragmented development and decision making outside of the four established municipalities within the region.
In addition to creating a single OCP, the number of development permit areas was reduced from 44 to 13, and the entire region was re-mapped by the CVRD geographical information services’ staff to reflect this update.
The process of harmonizing the existing OCPs into a single document began in earnest in 2019, with intense, internal work by the professional planners of the CVRD community planning division.
Once in draft form, the OCP underwent several rounds of in-person and virtual public engagement opportunities, in addition to full review and consideration by the members of each electoral area’s advisory planning commission.
“This nine electoral area OCP is historic for the CVRD as a community and an organization,” said Ian Morrison, director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls.
“It will foster better decisions on growth, environment and climate change, and quality of life for our future generations. All who read it will benefit from its improved clarity, transparency and fairness.”