The draft Otter Point Official Community Plan (OCP) has passed an important hurdle. On Feb. 27 the proposed settlement area and density recommendations passed the Capital Regional District Planning and Transportation Committee unanimously as consistent with the Regional Growth Strategy.
For a number of years our association has defended rural land owners against repeated attempts to “down-zone” their properties. The restoration of “building strata” (commonly referred to as “4 on 10“) and “subdivision for a family member (946)” development options were achieved ultimately through litigation.
The new settlement area and density recommendations (which sets a 1ha. density for all properties under 25 ha.) remove the remaining form of down-zoning, contained in the 2007 OCP, which is:
“126.96.36.199 Settlement Area Policies
c. Residential development outside the settlement containment areas should consist of parcels greater than 2 ha. (5 acres).”
This was a serious mismatch between policy and existing zoning. Properties outside the settlement containment area would be limited to a two-hectare density when in fact the density of Rural A zoned property, which comprises the majority of such lands, is one-hectare. This created a situation where fee simple subdivision, arguably the most desirable form, was effectively eliminated and the the only alternative was through strata development, either “building” or “bare-land.” The committee report referenced elements of the 2007 OCP such as the foregoing clause as ones that “did not resonate well with the community.” That’s putting it mildly.
The new Otter Point OCP reconciles the inequities that the settlement area policies in the old OCP imposed on owners of Rural A zoned land, and does so with progressive options: it restores fee simple, and retains strata and 946 subdivision options. And it does so with no overall increase in density, and so maintains RGS consistency.
Most importantly it is the reflection of a consensus in the community to put forth positive solutions, not take away or trade off options, and of a commitment by Juan de Fuca Director Mike Hicks, who was twice elected on a “no down-zoning” platform, to fulfill that promise.
The community has moved to repair and progress.
Association of B.C. Landowners