North Cowichan adopts Official Community Plan

North Cowichan has adopted its new Official Community Plan (OCP). The OCP was developed over three years and with considerable community input.

“We heard from many residents, business owners, agencies, and stakeholders, as well as with support of volunteers and staff,” said Mayor Al Siebring. “I want to thank each and every person who took the time to provide their feedback as part of this OCP process, and also express Council's appreciation for the work of the OCP Advisory Committee and Community Ambassadors - all volunteers who helped to shape this project.”

The OCP will guide decisions on community planning, growth management, housing, natural environment, food security and agriculture, local economy, and sustainable infrastructure.

The development of the plan was supported by an advisory committee made up of local residents, plus community ambassador teams that provided input and feedback over four phases. Residents took part through surveys, workshops, community dialogues, stakeholder engagement, and webinars, which was followed by inter-governmental referrals to neighbouring and senior government agencies, local First Nations, School District 79, and the Agricultural Land Commission.

The OCP guides growth away from historical patterns of development in North Cowichan. A revised Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) concentrates growth and development in areas with existing infrastructure capacity, aims to build resilience to the climate emergency, and provide a diverse and affordable range of housing options.

Two critical frameworks have been applied to ensure an integrative focus throughout the OCP:

  • Ecology and climate action: A guiding principle ensures municipal decisions are made through the lens of the climate emergency and Goal 7 prioritizes climate action through the reduction of energy consumption and emissions, and adapting to climate change.
  • Social justice and equity: This collective aspiration refers to the just and fair inclusion in society so that all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential, and that all people are afforded equal rights and opportunities.

The new OCP takes immediate effect and replaces the previous OCP adopted in 2011. Other North Cowichan bylaws and policies will be updated to reflect direction set out in the OCP, including the zoning bylaw, and new strategies developed including a health and social well-being strategy. The planning horizon for the OCP is 20 years and beyond, though the document is comprehensively reviewed and updated approximately every 10 years.