Ladysmith Town Council met for a special council meeting on March 23 to discuss the launch of the Official Community Plan review process.
The Town will be working with Ahne Studio, an urban planning and community engagement firm that also worked on the Town’s Waterfront Plan community engagement process.
“It’s an honour given our memories of working with you on the waterfront plan,” registered professional planner and Ahne founder, Jennifer Fix said. “It was a career defining moment — one of the most inspiring partnerships and projects we’ve ever had the chance to work on — so we’re just thrilled to have the chance to work with you again.”
Fix added that people from the team that worked on the Waterfront Area Plan are also on the team for the OCP review.
An OCP is a policy document that influences how people live, gather, recreate, shop, work, learn, and move around their community. At its heart, an OCP is about managing land use and physical growth of a town.
Sections 473 and 474 of the Local Governments Act requires that the OCP establish regulations for locations, amount, type, and intensity of land uses; greenhouse gas reductions targets and policies; affordable, rental, and special needs housing; restrictions on hazardous and environmentally sensitive lands; and development permit areas.
As a result, an OCP influences climate change preparedness, equity and place-making for all, transportation choices, housing affordability, community character, protection of ecological areas, community health, costs of Town services and infrastructure, and more.
Through the community engagement process, the Town and Ahne are aiming to hear from a diverse spectrum of people. Fix said that the pandemic has shown that planners have to ‘roll with the punches’ and try new methods of engaging the public.
The OCP is almost certain to deal largely with climate change as communities across Canada work to reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.
The planning process for the new OCP is already underway. The Town has struck a 17 member OCP steering committee, and says that the community members appointed to the Steering Committee will help to guide and shape the direction of the review while bringing their expertise from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Project updates including information on engagement opportunities will be posted at www.ladysmith.ca this spring. The review process is expected to culminate in a new OCP in late 2022.