Intent behind Growth Management Policies in draft Official Community Plan clarified

OCP Schedule C Growth Management2The District is updating its Official Community Plan (OCP) to reflect the vision and goals of Squamish residents. A major theme within the draft OCP is to direct growth to existing neighbourhoods to promote compact development. This approach preserves open space and environmentally sensitive areas, and promotes efficiency and sustainability in the face of climate change through minimizing sprawl and facilitating walkable neighbourhoods.

The District is responsible for ownership, maintenance and replacement of infrastructure such as roads, sewers and water built to service new development, and services such as fire protection and transit. Infrastructure maintenance and replacement costs make up a significant portion of the District’s annual costs and contributes to tax increases. Compact or infill development within existing neighbourhoods makes the best use of existing infrastructure and subsequently minimizes taxes for rate payers.

District Lot 509/510, which encompasses biking trails commonly accessed from Perth Drive, has historically been designated and zoned for resource uses such as logging. 

According to the current 2010 OCP, Lot 509/510 and various other outlying lands may be considered for future Sub-Area Plans including rezoning for residential development after the District’s population reaches a minimum of 22,500, a population threshold which, in 2010, reflected the anticipated capacity of existing neighbourhoods. 

Development capacity has been reexamined as part of the current OCP update process. It has been determined that Squamish can accommodate a population of at least 34,000 within existing neighbourhoods without developing outlying lands. Consequently, the proposed OCP policy suggests that the entirety of vast parcels such as Lot 509/510 (and others) should not be considered for development until the population threshold of 34,000 has been reached. Neither the existing nor proposed policies guarantee support of residential development on Lot 509/510 at any population, but rather indicate rezoning may be considered by Council once the threshold has been reached. 

The draft OCP does include one exemption to the 34,000 population threshold.  Development applications for portions of outlying lands that provide an extraordinary benefit to the community may be considered if two conditions are met: 1) the population reaches 22,500 and 2) six key municipal policies, as outlined in the draft OCP, have been adopted. Examples of these policies include an affordable housing policy, a community wildfire protection plan and steep slope development controls. As such, any landowner could submit an application to Council for development of outlying lands once the 22,500 population threshold has been reached, provided that the key policies have been addressed by the District. This opens the door for an application, but does not suggest that a development would automatically receive approval – that decision would be reserved for the sitting Council at the time to consider.

We wish to note that the District has consistently shown support for the mountain bike industry in Squamish as an economic driver and a critical component of Squamish’s brand success. Through partnership and demonstrated efforts and investment, the District has encouraged the incredible growth of the trail network – much of it built with volunteer support – that has served to position Squamish among the top destinations for mountain biking on the continent.

Public input has played a key role in the creation of the OCP, and the public is invited to comment on the draft throughout the approval process. Second reading of the OCP bylaw is expected within a month. Council’s role is to consider all public feedback and weigh the many trade-offs to find a sustainable way forward in the best long-term interest of the community.

To view and provide feedback on the draft OCP, schedules and interactive mapping portal visit squamish.ca/ocp.

February 08, 2018

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Comments

  • Ian Sanity Feb 09, 2018

    SORCA have done an incredible promotion job selling the myth that Squamish is a unique venue for mountain biking. Reality is that every mountain town in BC is surrounded by forest that can be dug up for singletrack. In no way should the hypothetical preservation of a few trails justify messing with the OCP to benefit a single speculative landowner. If SORCA members really need the trails so badly, why not offer the landowner some rent?

  • Sharon Tait Feb 09, 2018

    Would you be able to provide information and advise how you determined that Squamish can accommodate a population of at least 34,000 within existing neighbourhoods without developing outlying lands.

    Kind regards,

    Sharon Tait

    • DOS Communications Feb 13, 2018

      Hello Sharon, here is a companion document to the OCP that highlights how the 34,000 is determined. You can view this on p. 5 of the document linked here: https://squamish.ca/assets/OCP-Review/Squamish2040-GM-Backgrounder-Final.pdf

  • Richard Zimmer Feb 09, 2018

    The district says it wants to contain growth. So they increase development in existing boundaries like allowing town homes to be built only a few hundred metres from the gun club. That was smart not going to have any conflicts there. My understanding is council has moved the development threshold numerous times. I feel its wrong to keep moving the post. Let Mr Cheema develop his land as long as he includes the trails as he claims he will.

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