City Readies Blueprint for Next 30 Years

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The City of Victoria has unveiled a first draft of its new Official Community Plan, a document intended to guide growth and change in Victoria over the next three decades.

Cameron Scott, a senior planner with the city’s Community Planning Division, presented an overview of the 177-page OCP to media on Wednesday, April 6, and today it goes before the city council’s Governance and Priorities Committee. Public input will be sought between now and June 10 via surveys mailed to all residents, a website, and a series of open houses.

The draft represents the first update to the city’s OCP in more than 15 years. As opposed to past plans that were focused mainly on land use and population density, this new version adds aspirations such as walkable village centres, comprehensive transportation linkage, and a “resilient city,” while emphasizing the preservation of what Scott calls the “place character” and “built form” of traditional residential housing areas.

However, the plan’s goal of “sustainable community infrastructure” through “compact land-use patterns” means the height restriction of buildings in urban residential areas outside the downtown core will be raised from four storeys to six.

Scott says the city anticipates growth of 20,000 new residents and 10,600 new jobs over the next 30 years, and thus another objective of the plan is to broaden the types of housing available in Victoria’s neighbourhoods so families can live for an entire life cycle in the same place, if they so choose. By 2041, the plan says, 90 per cent of all dwelling units should be within 400 metres of the urban core, a town centre, or a large or small urban village.

The OCP defines the urban core as, roughly, the area bounded to the south by the legislative and Inner Harbour district, to the west by Quadra Street, and to the north by Bay Street. Large urban villages include James Bay and Stadacona, while Fernwood and Cedar Hill are examples of small urban villages. The commercial districts anchored by Hillside and Mayfair malls are considered town centres.

Environmental and sustainability concerns also factored heavily in the drafting of the new OCP. The city aims to reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020, and the plan will support and promote seismic upgrades to buildings and infrastructure due to the increasing likelihood of a “damaging earthquake event.”

For more information about the OCP, visit www.shapeyourfuturevictoria.ca.