Comments on the latest Juan de Fuca draft OCP and land use bylaw

Nov 18, 2009

The Environmental Law Centre has been asked to comment on the most recent iteration (November 17 2009) of the Juan de Fuca draft OCP and land use bylaw. I have taken a very cursory look at them and the planner’s report and feel that they are a vast improvement over the previous drafts in terms of upholding the Regional Growth Strategy and maintaining a significant natural resources landscape in the region. I specifically note the following positive things (please note that my page number references are to the numbers on the Adobe program and not the numbers in the documents thmselves): Acknowledgement of inadequacy of inventories and land use designations Page 14 of the OCP notes that because of the demise of the FLR and other changes at the provincial level there are lands that should be included in the Unprotected Green Lands Policy Area and other land use designations. Updated inventories and re-designation of lands is anticipated in the upcoming review of the RGS and as part of other planning processes. Addition of other Sustainability Objectives Page 17 of the OCP states as the first plan objective “To protect the wilderness character of the area.” There are other sustainability objectives on page 18. Parks Parcels created for parks are exempt from minimum lot sizes. Resource Lands The vast majority of the area is now zoned as Resource Lands, with a 120 ha minimum parcel size. The OCP explicitly recognizes the environmental values of the Resource Lands as well as their extractive use potential (page 24). Unprotected Green Lands Policy Area Addition of this category identifies land in the regional Green/Blue Spaces Strategy that need protection. Creating an inventory of the sensitive ecosystems and priority acquisitions in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area seems to have been added to the RGS or CRD Parks task list (and this is quite timely given that the regional Land Acquisition Fund is up for renewal). New Rural/Rural Residential Policy Area Zone (some inconsistency in what it is called in the OCP) Only applies to specific areas identified on Map 2 – a very small amount of the total area, near Port Renfrew. Only problem would be if landowners applied to bring more properties into this zone via subdivision, but the OCP does not contemplate an expansion of this zone. Referral to CRD Parks and other Planning Processes There are a variety of places where additional planning (e.g. page 21 referral to the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Parks and Recreation Commission) will be incorporated into the OCP. I question the following: Rezoning Criteria Page 20 policy 12 – the OCP still sets out by what criteria applications for rezoning will be considered. The number one criteria should be “suitability of location” and point to all the other policies that basically say development is only appropriate in Jordan River and on some other very limited bases. It may be that when read with the other general policies this provides significant direction to applicants that Rural Resource Lands will be left in large lot status. High Water Mark & Floodplain Setbacks Floodplain setbacks have been reduced from 30 m to 15 m “to reflect the practice in the remainder of the Juan de Fuca Electoral area.” A 15 metre setback from a floodplain may contravene the Riparian Areas Regulation. The definitions section of the OCP also says the high water mark is 15 metres. However, environmental development permit areas require a setback of 30 metres or compliance with the Riparian Areas Regulation (page 33). This may be inconsistent. I suggest that a 30 metre minimum is appropriate, and the CRD can exceed the RAR (as per section 12 of the Fish Protection Act). Deborah Curran Program Director, ELC Lawyer, Curran & Company