Municipalities are required under provincial legislation to review their Official Community Plan (OCP) every five years.
Councils are not necessarily required to amend the OCP, they can send it into the province under a previous council’s adoption. Councils are however required to review the document and confirm no amendments with their submission of endorsement, not just rubber stamp it.
OCPs are often referred to as a “living breathing” document, this means that zonings confirmed in the document are not cast in stone. Why? Because councils may have a significant investment into the development of a property, that doesn’t suit the zoning in the OCP (recent Kinney Ave zoning amendment). Developers are entitled to request a zoning amendment. If an application to amend the OCP zoning is made, the council is required under the municipal charter to advertise and notify residents within a radius of the zoning.
The request for rezoning should be carefully reviewed by council, specifically as to how the zoning on the property was determined by previous council’s. What was the previous councils reasoning for the zoning? Is it next to a school? Was the decision to the zoning based on the properties on that street? Plus, is there possible traffic congestion with increased density if zoned to accommodate higher density? Staff should definitely bring the reasoning from the existing OCP to councils attention when zoning changes are requested.
I question the announcement that there hasn’t been a OCP review for 15 years. As stated above the charter requires it be reviewed and endorsed. That being said, it still requires a public process.
During my last term on council (2005-2008) a 20-year OCP project was undertaken (the first in the province), which took several months of public consultation to complete. Councillor Gary Litke was appointed as chair. The most controversial issue that came out of that was the height of buildings. Twelve floors was the decision put into the 20-year vision of city growth. The incoming council approved 30-plus floors for a development on Martin Street.
I can’t necessarily agree that a review of the OCP needs to take almost two years at a cost of thousands of dollars? May I suggest to avoid that cost that your 17-person team be made up of past employees and councillors who have “been there done that.”