On October 2nd, the City of New Westminster gave final adoption to our new Official Community Plan. This was the culmination of over 3 years of working and engaging with the community. I am extremely proud of the work that we have accomplished through this process and strongly believe our new community plan will allow the city to confront and tackle some of the most difficult planning challenges that we will face into the future. The new OCP is 1237 pages long, but for those who are looking for a shorter summary…..
5 Things you need to know about your new Official Community Plan (written by Lynn Roxburgh, the lead planner for the new OCP)
- Laneway and Carriage Houses: The adoption of the OCP, and the related amendments to the Zoning Bylaw, would allow laneway and carriage houses throughout much of the City. The proposal is bold in that people wanting to build a laneway house would not have to apply for a rezoning and the Development Permit would be issued by the Director of Development Services. No Council approval would be required. This will help add new ground oriented housing to New Westminster’s housing stock. These new units can be used by family or can be rented.
- Other forms of Infill Housing: A key focus of the OCP process was to provide more opportunities for housing choice. Increasing housing choice can be achieved by encouraging more ground oriented, infill housing forms. This OCP would start the process of allowing new forms of infill, including townhouses and rowhouses, as well as other forms such as triplexes, quadraplexes and cluster houses. The implementation of the OCP would continue to move the city forward towards achieving this objective.
- 22nd Street Station Area Master Plan: The area surrounding the 22nd Street SkyTrain Station could see significant change with the adoption of the OCP. A lot of discussion took place through the OCP review about future land uses in this area; however, the proposed OCP makes it clear that more work needs to be done prior to allowing redevelopment to move forward. The work would include a detailed transportation study, identification of the appropriate community amenities for the area, and creating design guidelines that ensure the public and private realm are well designed.
- Enhanced Building Type and Design Expectations: The proposed OCP adds more clarity about the buildings types and uses (and even secondary uses). We hope this provides more clarity to the community about what to expect in each area of the city. This OCP also goes further than the current OCP by including a more comprehensive set of guidelines. The guidelines are intended to ensure that all new development helps to implement the land use policies in the OCP. The OCP includes guidelines that would influence the design of buildings, but also reflect other important city principles such as energy conservation. Other City policies are integrated with these guidelines, such as the Urban Forest Management Strategy and the Integrated Stormwater Management Plan.
- The creation of a special employment area around the Royal Columbian Hospital. This area is envisioned to play a key role in the future economic development of the city and have a high level of employment related activity (including an expanded knowledge based workforce). The creation of this area also expresses the city’s intent to promote and offer incentives for office development within a five-minute walk of the hospital. The area will leverage opportunities created through the expansion of the hospital and is aligned with the work being done on the economic health-care cluster (IDEA Centre).
Fun Fact about the Official Community Plan
- The process was the first time we used food trucks rather than just serving the standard cookies and coffee.
- We were bold in the implementation of the laneway housing by changing the Zoning Bylaw along with the OCP. And we already have our first official application!
- The event at the River Market that combined Beer Friday & OCP engagement was our fastest sell out. We reached max. capacity within hours of the advertising going out.
- Only one parent forgot their child at the free childminding we offered.
- We gave out buttons throughout the process. There were 15 different designs.
- We did bus tours with City staff, the Advisory Group and Council to see housing forms outside of New Westminster. Everyone made it back! We also published a self-guided tour so other community members could explore.
- Our events included more activities that involved pencil crayons, poker chips, fake New West money, post cards and heart shaped post it notes among other things.
- The OCP in its entirety is 1237 pages.
- This is the first OCP that actively addresses the importance of having a sense of belonging, and creating a family friendly city. It’s the first time we have a policy regarding public engagement included in the OCP.