Easier-to-read maps are one aspect of the official community plan that are really needed in a new version of that document, according to planner James Van Hemert. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Easier-to-read maps are one aspect of the official community plan that are really needed in a new version of that document, according to planner James Van Hemert. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Updated OCP needs to be more user-friendly, council told

“People were really struggling with the maps.”

It’s really time to bring Lake Cowichan’s official community plan into the 21st century, according to planner James Van Hermert.

Work on it has been going ahead steadily, at the advisory planning council level and a few problems have emerged, he said.

“People were really struggling with the maps. They couldn’t tell where they were and there was no context. The land use map? I put it up there on the easel and you can see that beyond the town boundaries, it’s all white. It’s like the end of the earth. People want better maps, more detail, even satellite imagery behind.

“I was surprised, after the first round of dialogue with the working groups, people just did not understand. We struggled with the maps.

“Point number two, there is no economic development strategy in this either. It’s silent on economics. Right now, there is an initiative, looking at tourism in western Cowichan…that’s one piece of that. But there’s been some very good work done…on what we can do in the town to encourage growth in the economic base in town. And there’s been another economic readiness assessment done recently.

“The challenge with these documents is because they haven’t been adopted in the form of a bylaw, there are no specific actions. If we put some of that into the OCP and it becomes a bylaw, there is more likelihood that it will be acted on. That’s what the working groups are saying.”

He pointed out that there are only a few hectares of land within the town boundaries identified for industrial use: a block east of town on Highway 18.

“That’s all there is. So, we also want to broaden the concept. The working group this morning talked about using the words ‘employment lands’ rather than ‘industrial’, which captures a broader range of jobs,” he said.

The official community review open house, entitled Creating Our Future, is scheduled for Saturday, June 2, from 1-4 p.m. at Centennial Hall.