Land Use Across the CRD

Building from my Saanich vs. Victoria comparison I decided to look at how each of the 13 municipalities make their Land Use and Development information available from their websites. My approach to documenting such availability was to visit each homepage and then look for “Planning/Development/Land Use” or “Department/Services” headers or icons – with an assumption that all associated information would be linked accordingly.

In the process of doing so I have compiled links  to each municipality’s Official Community Plan because these documents set out general planning principles and Development Permit Areas, and Zoning bylaws because these documents set out specific requirements for land use and building massing. It should be noted that OCPs are intended to be updated every five years and Zoning bylaws are intended to updated following adoption of a new OCP.

Municipalities are organized alphabetically in this post.

Central Saanich

The main department responsible for planning and land use is the Planning and Building Services department with a staff of 11 people. Maneuvering through their website (despite its relative old age) is easy and logical with  effective contact links provided for staff. There is a well organized Planning section of the website and an additional Forms and Guides page which provides clear links to all associated documentation.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 2008 (link to OCP page here) and main document sections include:

  • Our Long Term Vision
  • Context for this Plan
  • Agriculture and Rural Lands: Strengthening Farming and Preserving Character
  • Residential Growth Management and Housing : Creating Compact, Complete and Diverse Communities
  • Economic Development: Building Prosperity and Opportunity
  • Parks, Recreation and Open Space: Protecting and Enhancing Public Green Spaces
  • Environment: Preserving Health Abundant Ecosystems
  • Heritage and Community: Celebrating Diversity, Culture and Community
  • Transportation: Ensuring Mobility Choice for All
  • Municipal Infrastructure: Building & Maintaining Healthy, Efficient Utilities and Buildings
  • Development Permit Areas and Guidelines
  • Regional Context Statement
Zoning (adopted 1999 and consolidated 2014)

Their Land Use (Zoning) bylaw is available from their Bylaws and Policies page.  An additional Rezoning guide is then available from a separate Forms and Guides page.

Colwood

The main department responsible for planning and land use is the Planning Department (staff of 5) which seems to be separate from the Engineering (staff of 8) and Building Services (staff of 3) departments. It is noted that links to Important Planning documents, current applications and application packages are all made conveniently made from this page.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in (link to OCP page here) in 2008 and main document sections include:

  • OCP Overview (Goals etc)
  • Community Objectives and Policies (Various)
  • Background Information (Community profile)
  • Development Permit Areas and Guidelines
  • Area Plans
Zoning (adopted 1989 and consolidated 2014)

Zoning related information is found in many locations including the specific Rezoning Applications page. In addition to the Land Use (Zoning) bylaw and a zoning map there is zoning information available in a large downloadable Planning and Development Guide that addresses all planning and development issues.

Esquimalt

The main department responsible for planning and land use is Development Services with a staff of 5 people as well as an unknown number of staff in their Building Inspection Division. Similar to how the District of Saanich website is set up, all development related information is available from a separate Business and Development section of the website. From this section, everything is linked in a logical fashion, so long as you know what you are looking for.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 2007 (link to OCP page here) and main document sections include:

  • Community Vision Statement
  • Managed Growth – Land Use and Development
  • A Healthy Community
  • A Connected Community – Transportation
  • A Well Serviced Community – Services and Utilities
  • A green and Blue Community – Parks, Trails and Recreation
  • Respecting our Natural Setting – Environment
  • A Prosperous Community – Economic Development
  • Development Permit Areas
  • Regional Context Statement
  • Implementation
Zoning (adopted 1992 and consolidated 2014)

A general Rezoning page is provided that links to the Zoning bylaw, Schedule A Zoning Bylaw Map and a Rezoning guide.

Highlands

The main department responsible for planning and land use in the District of Highlands is the Planning and Development department (that consists of 1 Planner). There is also a separate Building Department with a staff of 2 (one building inspector & one assistant). The District’s website is neatly arranged and clear links are provided to all relevant documentation from their Applicants and Relative [sic] Bylaws page in their website.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 2007 (link to OCP documents here) and wholly amended in 2013. Main document sections include:

  • Long Term Vision – Look at Ourselves
  • Land Use
  • Environment and Resources
  • Parks and Trails
  • Energy, Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change Adaption
  • Transportation
  • Services and Utilities
  • Social WellBeing
  • Economic Diversification
  • Regional Context Statement
  • Development Review
  • Plan Implementation
Zoning (adopted 1998 and consolidated 2014)

Links to the Zoning Bylaw and Zoning Map are provided from multiple sections in the Highlands website which makes them easy to access.

Langford

The main department responsible for planning and land use is the Planning Department. And while it may not be entirely logical to maneuver to this section of the website (from a top level Department header) relevant information is clearly organized. Many pieces of relevant development information also seem to be organized under a “How To” page as well as presented on a  separate Land Development (subdivisions) page.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted (link to OCP page here) in 2008 and substantially amended in 2013. Main document sections include:

  • OCP Overview (Goals etc)
  • Community Objectives and Policies (Various)
  • Background Information
  • Development Permit Areas
Zoning (adopted 1999 and consolidated 2015)

A direct link to the Zoning bylaw is available from the Planning page which also includes instructions to use this generic application form. A zoning map is then only available from a whole other location as well as from a separate Map Gallery page.

Metchosin

The two main groups responsible for planning and land use in Metchosin are Building, Permits, and Inspections (staff of 2) and Development, Land Use, Subdivision, and GIS (staff of 1). All relevant documentation is available from the Building & Development and Planning and Development sections of their website.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 1995 (link to OCP documents here). Main document sections include:

  • Background and Plan Map
  • Environmental Policies
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Parks
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Commercial Recreation
  • Industrial
  • Transportation
  • Institutional
  • Community Services
  • Implementation
  • Metchosin Regional Context Statement
Zoning (adopted 1995 and consolidated 2014)

A well organized page on Land Use and Zoning is provided that summarizes the Metchosin process and provides links to the District’s Land Use (Zoning) bylaw and zoning map.

North Saanich

The main department responsible for planning and land use is the Planning and Community Services department (with a staff of 4 including an inspector). A fair bit of work is required to maneuver through the various sections of this website areas to access all bits of relevant planning and development bylaws and policies.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 2007 (link to OCP documents here).  Main document sections include:

  • Community Vision –  Goals and Objectives of the Plan
  • Environmentally Sensitive Areas
  • Marine Areas
  • Agriculture
  • Residential
  • Commercial Development
  • Light Industry
  • Parkland Dedication
  • Community Amenities
  • Roads and Servicing
  • General Development Policies
  • Special Development Areas
  • Development Permit Areas
  • Development Approval Information Areas
  • Regional Context Statement
  • Performance Measures
  • Additional Community Objectives and Policies
Zoning (adopted 2011 consolidated 2014)

Information related to zoning and rezoning can be found in various locations. There is a Sustainability Guide for Rezoning Applications that must be completed. There is some general information on Rezoning that is available from a Planning page, that also links to a Rezoning Application Guide. A direct link to the Zoning bylaw is then only available from the Bylaws page.

Oak Bay

The main department responsible for planning and land use is the Building and Planning department (staffed by 1 Director who is the building inspector and 1 planner). It is noted that all relevant bylaws and policies are provided from a Building Bylaws page which then links back over the a Building Permits page.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 2014 (link to OCP page here) and main document sections include:

  • Introduction (Vision and Goals etc)
  • Setting the Stage (Demographics and existing plans etc)
  • Natural Environment
  • Community Framework
  • Servicing our Community
  • Implementation
  • Development Approval Information Required
  • Development Permit Areas
Zoning (adopted 1986 and consolidated 2011)

Their zoning bylaw is available from the Building Bylaws page and application and permitting information is available from the  Building Permits page. For mapping information Oak Bay residents are encouraged to visit the CRD community Atlas which doesn’t seem to be the most functional.

Saanich

The main department responsible for planning and land use is the Planning Department (with a staff of 46.5 FTE including Managers of Inspections, Bylaw Enforcement, Current Planning, Community Planning and Environmental Services). As with the Township of Esquimalt, the District’s website is arranged so that planning and land use related information is available from a separate “Doing Business” portal on the site. There is a lot of information available online from Saanich and it is neatly organized and well linked – so long as you know what you are looking for.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 2008 (link to OCP page here) and main document sections include:

  • Vision
  • Planning Content
    • Physical Setting/Past and Present/Residents/Planning Framework/Regional Context
  • Environmental Integrity
    • Natural Environment/Built Environment
  • Social Well Being
    • Basic Needs/Strengthening Community
  • Economic Vibrancy
    • Economic Infrastructure/Diversification and Enhancement
  • Taking Action and Tracking Implementation
  • Local Area Plans
Zoning (adopted 2003 and consolidated ?)

A standalone Zoning main page provides separate links to information on the Rezoning process as well as links back to the Zoning Bylaw. Like the City of Victoria, Saanich provides a GIS mapping service (identical software package to Victoria) available for use – however Saanich provides fewer layers of data for users than Victoria. This really only matters though if we were to compare who has actually accessed what from either provided.

I wonder if such data is available?

Sidney

The main department responsible for planning and land use in the Town of Sidney is the Community Planning Department  (with a staff of 7 including Building Inspection and Bylaw Enforcement). A fair bit of clicking through is required from various locations on the website in order to search out and access relevant bylaws and policies.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 2007 (link to OCP documents here) and main document sections include:

  • Sidney’s Vision
  • Community Context
  • Regional Context Statement
  • Objectives and Policies (Various)
  • Residential Lands
  • Downtown Commercial Lands
  • Neighbourhood Commercial Lands
  • West Sidney Commercial Lands
  • Industrial Lands
  • Harbour Road Marine Lands
  • Marine
  • Institutional
  • Parks, Public Open Space and Leisure Facilities
  • Environment and Climate Action
  • Culture
  • Heritage
  • Transportation
  • Infrastructure and Services
  • Development Permit Area Guidelines
  • Offences and Penalties
  • Downtown/Downtown Waterfront Local Area Plans
Zoning (adopted 2012 and consolidated 2015)

There is a PDF Guide to Amending the Zoning Bylaw available from the main page and direct links to the Zoning Bylaw and Zoning Map are available from the Bylaws page.

Sooke

Responsibility for Land Development in Sooke is shared by the Planning (staff of 5), Engineering (staff of 6) and Building (staff of 3) Departments. Maneuvering through the Sooke website requires some work in order to locate all relevant development related bylaws and policies.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 2010  (link to OCP documents here) and main document sections include:

  • Location
  • Vision and Guiding Principles
  • The Plan
  • Land Use Designations
  • Temporary Commercial and Industrial Use Permits
  • Development Permit Areas
  • Implementation
  • Mapping
  • Sooke’s Physical, Social and Regional Context
Zoning (adopted 2013 and consolidated 2014)

A well organized page on Zoning is provided that summarizes Sooke process and provides links to the Town’s Zoning bylaw and zoning maps (as provided by a separate mapping service).

Victoria

The main department responsible for planning and land use is the Sustainable Planning and Community Development department (with a staffing contingent of 42.43 FTE). Information provided on the City’s website is notoriously difficult to navigate and lots of searching through various links and subpages is required.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was adopted in 2012 (link to OCP page here) and main document sections include:

  • Purpose, Scope and Linkages
  • Vision, Values and Goals
  • Context and Challenges
  • Regional COntext Statement
  • Land Management and Development
  • Transportation and Mobility
  • Placemaking
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Environment
  • Infrastructure
  • Climate Change and Energy
  • Housing and Homelessness
  • Economy
  • Community Well Being
  • Arts and Culture
  • Food Systems
  • Emergency Management
  • Plan Administration
  • Local Area Planning
  • Neighbourhood Directions
  • Adaptive Management
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
Zoning (some zones date back to 1981)

The City of Victoria is unique in how their Zoning bylaw is not one standalone bylaw. Instead, it is a collection of hundreds of spot zones and eight appendices including (zoning page here):

  • Definitions
  • Table of Contents
  • Off-Street Parking
  • Home Occupations
  • Accessory Building Regulations
  • House Conversation Regulations
  • Panhandle Lot Regulations
  • Secondary Suite Regulations

With respect to where/how to find a Zoning Map, information is provided on the Zoning page directing you to VicMap, the City’s interactive mapping system. Pro tip: use the HTML5 version (regardless of your OS) because otherwise the damn thing crashes. Victoria uses the same mapping software as Saanich.

View Royal

The main departments responsible for planning and land use in View Royal are Development Services and Building & Bylaw Services with an unknown staff contingent. In general the town’s website is neatly arranged and clear links are provided to all relevant documentation from their Planning and Development section in their website.

Official Community Plan

Their OCP was created in 2011 (link to OCP documents here) and main document sections include:

  • Physical Environment
    • Land Use and Urban Design
    • Transportation and Mobility
    • Housing
    • Natural Environment, Energy and Climate Change
    • Community Infrastructure and Services
  • Social Environment
    • Parks and Recreation
    • Community Facilities and Social Well-Being
  • Economic Environment
    • Economic Development
  • Development Permit Areas
  • Implementation
Zoning (adopted 1990 and consolidated 2014)

A well organized page on Rezoning is provided that summarizes View Royal process and provides links to the Town’s Zoning bylaw and zoning map.

So What’s The Point?

Just to demonstrate how different each municipality is – also to provide an index to everyone’s stuff. Of note is that Metchosin has the oldest (1995) OCP and Oak Bay has the oldest original (prior to consolidation) zoning  bylaw (1986). As mentioned at the start of this article, typical best practice is to update your OCP every 5 years so as to ensure the appropriateness of your community vision. Related to this, is a general best practice assumption that zoning bylaws be updated after new OCPs are adopted.

Based on my reading of municipal documents only Sidney, North Saanich and Sooke have managed to do so. With respect to Victoria, they adopted an OCP with a 30 year vision in 2012 and Council in 2015 voted to not update their Zoning bylaw because they didn’t see it as a priority.

I’ll be providing more information and analysis on land use and development across the CRD over the next while. I have many ideas.

 

 

 

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