The District of Sooke will soon hire a consultant to review the town’s official community plan, with an eye to creating a new document within two years.
The plan will replace a version adopted in 2008. The provincial Community Charter recommends an OCP update every 10 years.
The official community plan, more commonly referred to as an OCP, is a document which sets design guidelines, policies and expectations on development throughout the community.
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The district began a review of the OCP four years ago, but it was stalled due to other issues.
At a council meeting Tuesday, Sooke council acknowledged a lot of work, especially public input, was completed on the plan in 2016 and 2017,
Councillors Jeff Bateman, Dana Lajeunesse, Tony St-Pierre and Megan McMath urged municipal staff to bring the previous work together with any new information and policies.
Lajeunesse queried if a consultant was required given the economy has slowed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the planning department is now fully staffed.
“It’s going to be a balancing between the skills we have in-house [and the private sector],” said Norm McInnis, the district’s chief administrative officer.
“In my experience, the skills around data collection, themeing and writing are skills better suited for the private sector.”
Mayor Maja Tait questioned creating one document for everything, citing the 2008 OCP that’s undergone several amendments since its creation.
“When everyone counts on one document to be everything to everyone, it just becomes impossible,” she said.
“For me, I like an OCP that focuses on only what it needs to have and that we have other policy documents that it refers to that can be quickly updated.”
Four months ago at a committee-of-the-whole meeting, councillors discussed what they envisioned in a new OCP. They wanted to see “robust language” to support the climate crisis and reduce energy usage.
The recent Sooke Housing Needs, Economic Analysis, Child Care Needs Assessment and the Transportation Master and Parks and Trails Master plans contain statistics that can form background information in shaping the OCP, municipal staff said in a report to council.
The consultant will work with planning staff to develop the plan, and will put much of its focus on public input.
A project budget of $200,000 was previously approved by council. The consultant is expected to be hired in mid-May.