First two readings done for Comox Official Community Plan

With three new recommendations added, Comox council passed first and second reading of the new Official Community Plan, making way for a public hearing at the end of May prior to finalization.

With three new recommendations added, Comox council passed first and second reading of the new Official Community Plan, making way for a public hearing at the end of May prior to finalization.

Coun. Marcia Turner proposed a recommendation for a policy be added to the implementation strategy to undertake a comprehensive environmental survey and mapping of the coastal sand dunes system in conjunction with the Comox Valley Regional District to establish a coastal sand dunes development permit area.

“I have a lot of information and it’s been on people’s radar for a really long time and we really don’t have enough information. I think it would be an initiative that would probably be well received at the regional district as well,” she added.

An OCP update/additional public comments summary report identifies three coastal sand ecosystems in Comox: at Kye Bay, Point Homes and Goose Spit respectively.

Coun. Tom Grant suggested adding under the Affordable Rental and Special Needs Housing section (section 2.1.2.3) of the OCP a change to the designation of the d’Esterre senior’s property.

“Low-rise apartments to a maximum of three storeys are committed on 1582 Balmoral Ave … for the purposes of affordable housing and special-needs housing and that 1582 Balmoral be deleted from development permit map No. 2 — ground-oriented infill — and be added to development permit map No. 3, general multi-family,” he suggested.

“The d’Esterre Seniors’ Society have been in the planning stages of building more affordable housing for disadvantaged seniors in our community and if we were to follow the present OCP designation, that property would be ground-oriented infill which is patio homes, it’s not consistent with what they’re allowed to do now, nor is it consistent with their future plans,” Grant added.

Mayor Paul Ives questioned lots size wording, particularly as it pertained to the Point Holmes area, as the current proposed OCP notes the minimum parcel size for the subdivision of land in the Point Holmes/Cape Lazo area should not be less than 0.5 hectares (5,000 square metres).

“We’ve heard it from different people at different times that 0.5 or 0.4 or other sizes might not suit the various configurations and lots in Point Homes which of course, vary. Is there a mechanism for language within the OCP that has perhaps recognition of the rural nature of Point Homes?” he asked.

Coun. Patti Fletcher inquired about the implication of further development or major changes in the area.

“I guess I read in the transition report that the area was not desired for further development. The impact on the roads, let alone the environmental sensitivity … I’m not sure if this is a good thing or if there’s a loophole or are we going to compromise the area?” she noted.

Town planner Marvin Kamenz presented council with two alternatives for a policy — one which provides guidance that anticipated parcel sizes will be in the range of 0.5 hectares and notes that establishment of a minimum parcel size below 0.5 hectares will not require OCP amendment, and another option with no mention of anticipated minimum parcel size and therefore no need to mention that establishment of minimum parcel size less than 0.5 hectares will not require amendment of the OCP.

Council then voted on alternative two, which formally states that the minimum parcel size for the subdivision of land in the Point Holmes/Cape Lazo area should allow for the protection of environmentally sensitive areas and avoid the need for the extension of sanitary sewer to service the area. It is anticipated that the protection of sites with high environmental sensitivity through land trusts, ecogifts, density transfer, restrictive covenants and similar measures may significantly affect minimum parcel size.

It also notes that permitted residential uses on a parcel less than 0.5 hectares shall not exceed a single detached dwelling and a secondary suite. On parcels 0.5 hectares or greater, permitted residential uses shall not exceed a single detached dwelling and a secondary suite or coach house. Subdivision should require continuous paved road access along any parcel frontage and from each parcel to Lazo Road.

“I know we’ve talked about living, breathing documents. I think the challenge you have in an OCP — and you’re seeing it with downtown height restrictions —  is they get interpreted,” said Ives.

“You put certain things in that ‘forever and a day’ concept that you can never change it. I think this allows this document to breath a bit to allow the nature of that area to have the natural protection but also to take into account the different lot sizes and configurations and if someone is going to ecogift half of their property, why wouldn’t we want to consider that, and not be hamstrung by an overly proscriptive OCP?”

A public information meeting for the document is scheduled for May 30 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the d’Esterre Senior’s Centre followed by a public hearing at 7 p.m.

For more information on the OCP, visit www.comoxocp.ca.

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