How an Official Community Plan helps us reach community goals

    All municipal policies, plans and regulations must align with the OCP Bylaw, so it is a powerful guide to City decision-making. An effective OCP provides clear direction but does not preclude change to the plan based on evolving circumstances or interpretation of policies by Council and staff. In this way, an OCP is often considered a “living document.” This OCP Review seeks to integrate or ‘hardwire’ sustainability into all decisions and create greater alignment of City policies, programs, and projects.

    Purpose of an Official Community Plan

    An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a City bylaw that defines policies for land use and development. An OCP takes a long range view to ensure that the needs of current and new residents can be accommodated. For instance, based on projected population growth, we learn how many new homes will be needed. The OCP details what types of homes (apartment, townhouses, single family homes, etc.) are needed and provides policy direction on how, when and where those new homes will be located. The OCP, in addition to housing, addresses many other aspects of the City, including environmental protection, economic development, transportation, infrastructure and land use

    Who uses an Official Community Plan and what for?

    City Council, City staff, developers and professionals (architects, engineers, planners, landscape architects, etc.) use the OCP to understand what the community wants as it relates to the delivery of housing and other land uses, transportation services, infrastructure and amenities. They also use the OCP to understand which areas are suitable for development and which are not. The public can use the OCP to gain a better understanding of local issues and how they are planned to be addressed, or what changes might happen in their neighbourhood.

    Land use and development policy focus

    Provincial legislation (Local Government Act) outlines the purpose, required content and discretionary content of an Official Community Plan (OCP). The purpose of an OCP, under this legislation, is a “statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management.”

    The City has a number of plans or guidelines in place that have a very detailed focus on specific issues in the community that may or may not be land-use oriented. This is not uncommon for a city of our size. However, inclusion of all those other issues in an OCP creates an unwieldy document that does not necessarily focus on land use and development as intended in the legislation. In the case of Kelowna, there is enough Council and community support for these other plans in place today to stand on their own as separate policy documents and to create an OCP focused exclusively on land use planning and development.

    Importance of public input

    An Official Community Plan (OCP) review involves significant public involvement from beginning to end so that goals and policies reflect community concerns and hopes for the future. During an OCP update, the review process is open, transparent, and requires broad input from residents, elected officials, staff, and stakeholders. It is the City’s goal to engage residents of all walks of life to participate in a wide number of activities during the review.

    Difference between the zoning bylaw and the Official Community Plan

    The Zoning Bylaw is a regulatory tool that is very specific about land use, density, building siting (where a building can be located on a lot) and other issues such as landscaping and lot coverage.

    The OCP is more strategic and often less prescriptive about specific sites. For instance, the OCP will say “this area will be a future growth area for high density housing,” whereas the Zoning Bylaw will say that the building on that specific lot will be 12 storeys tall and cover 50 per cent of the lot.