Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

A timeline and plan for the Gabriola Local Trust Area Official Community Plan and Land Use Bylaw review outlines the steps to be taken over the next year.

In May, the Gabriola Local Trust Committee passed a resolution that staff develop a project charter for the OCP/LUB review that focuses on housing as the first priority.

The charter for phase one of three of the process will involve First Nations engagement, public education and engagement, development of a values and vision document as well as identification of options for housing related bylaw amendments, all to begin and be completed between now and May 2024. A soft launch is planned for September and public engagement, the structure of which has not be solidified, will begin in October. The total budget for Phase 1 is $18,000.

The terms of reference for the Advisory Planning Commission include assisting the LTC with the development and support of an engagement process and would involve identifying interest groups to engage. The Housing Advisory Planning Commission’s role will include reviewing the Housing Options and Impact Review Project report, the Islands Trust Housing Toolkit and related materials to recommend options for OCP and LUB amendments.

The Gabriola Island OCP and LUB have not had substantial updates since 1997 and 1999, respectively.

The first phase of the review is about establishing the “big picture,” Trustee Tobi Elliott said.

“One of the underlying goals of the exercise, in my mind, is to link a truly grassroots vision of our community’s future, with the more formal structure needed to create land use planning policies and bylaws,” Elliott said. Phase 1 “is a chance for our community to get its best and brightest ideas out ahead of the process, so that there is a strong sense of community ownership in the next stage of the process of developing policies, which then will shape our bylaws.”

Both Elliott and Trustee Susan Yates stressed the importance of hearing from as many voices as possible.

“I hope this community can work together to develop an OCP that speaks to ecological and social justice, since those are my own guiding principles,” Yates said. “I want to see First Nations participation as they so desire, the climate emergency considered with every land use statement and optimum creativity for housing in an environment that is threatened by inappropriate development.” Yates also wants to see development permit areas added to the OCP.

For updates and documents on the review thus far, go to www.islandstrust.bc.ca/island-planning/gabriola/projects/

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