North Pender Island Official Community Plan Resource











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Islands Trust STAFF REPORT for the North Pender Local Trust Committee (LTC) meeting of June 30, 2005

June 22, 2005

Islands Trust 11 Page Staff Report
File No.: NP-OCP-2004.1

To: North Pender Island Local Trust Committee
From: Robert Kojima
Acting Senior Planner
Local Planning Services
CC: Brodie Porter
Regional Planning Manager

Re: North Pender OCP Review - Focus Group Findings


RECOMMENDATIONS: The recommendations resulting from this report are listed at
the end of the document.

BACKGROUND: The LTC has previously endorsed an Official Community Plan review process consisting of three phases (copy attached):

1. Community consultation

2. Policy development

3. Bylaw adoption

Each phase is further broken down into steps, each of which has been scheduled for a specific date or month, or over several months. Phase one, the community consultation phase, has now been substantially completed: a community forum has been held (March), a series of focus group meetings, totaling 25 meetings, have been held (May – June), focus group facilitators have reported their findings (June), stakeholder groups have been invited to consult with the LTC (May-June) and a community meeting has been held to provide an opportunity for the public to review and comment on the focus group findings and stakeholder group comments.

The next step in the process is for the LTC to review the findings of the focus groups, to consider policy options and to direct staff to prepare draft policies based on the preferred options. Trustees have individually had the opportunity to review the focus group findings, the handful of comments received from stakeholder groups and the comments of the public. The LTC should now consider the findings and comments and commence providing direction to staff on proceeding with drafting new or revised policies. The direction to prepare draft policies will advance the review process from consultation phase to policy phase.

ISSUES SUMMARY AND STAFF COMMENTS:

Technical Staff Work: there are a number of minor changes to the current OCP that will need to be undertaken as part of a standard review and update; these were not part of the focus group process. They include:

1. updating references to agencies that no longer exist or that have changed names;

2. updating references to legislation, other policies or bylaws that have changed;

3. ensuring that the OCP addresses the directive policies in the Islands Trust Policy Statement (the current OCP pre-dates the Policy Statement);

4. identifying recommended policies in the Islands Trust Policy Statement that have not been addressed in the current plan;

5. identifying policies in the current OCP that have not been implemented to date;

6. preparing new maps to replace the schedules in the current OCP. This will involve the mapping department preparing digital maps to replace the old mylar maps. Once draft maps are prepared the details will be reviewed by the LTC and the community.

I am recommending that the LTC direct staff to commence work on addressing each of the above items.

Focus Groups: the focus group facilitators have reported separately on each topic. These reports have been forwarded to the trustees individually; however, the LTC should formally receive all of the reports as a committee. The LTC may also wish to take the opportunity to formally thank the focus group facilitators and participants for their time and effort.

Focus Group Reports: I will comment briefly on each report, and make recommendations where appropriate. Where there is a clear consensus or direction stemming from a focus group that is also consistent with other policies (in the OCP, the Islands Trust Policy Statement, etc.) and good planning, I will recommend that the LTC
give staff direction to proceed with drafting new or revised policies where appropriate.
In other instances, there is no clear consensus, or additional work may be warranted to reach the point where options can be considered, or there are a number of recommendations, options or suggested policies that require more detailed review. For these issues I will recommend that the LTC review the material in more detail in special
meetings over the next two to three months.

1. Goals (Guiding Principles and Objectives): the facilitator for this focus group prepared a comprehensive report on the results of the meetings, along with recommendations. The essential conclusion of the report is that most of the existing policies should remain, with some changes to wording, and that the LTC should consider a number of new goals. Given the importance of the goals of the plan and the fact that the recommendations involve increasing the number of goals, I will recommend that, before directing staff to prepare new draft goals, the LTC devote a portion of a special meeting to reviewing this report in detail, along with staff comments that will be prepared for the meeting.

At the community meeting held on June 18th, a number of speakers requested that the LTC hold or sponsor an additional meeting to attempt to establish some community consensus on overall vision or goals. I would not recommend that the LTC hold an additional meeting for this purpose. The LTC contracted with a professional facilitator for the goals topic to hold two focus group meetings on this topic.

These meetings were held over the past two months and a thorough and comprehensive report was produced by the facilitator, at considerable expense to the Islands Trust.

I cannot recommend that additional staff time or expenses be directed towards holding additional meetings on this topic when there is no indication that there would be attendance by large numbers, representing a cross-section of the community, resulting in recommended changes to the fundamental goals of the current plan.

There appears to be sufficient comment and opinion documented in the facilitator’s report to permit the LTC to effectively proceed with reviewing the goals of the plan and providing some direction on drafting revisions to those goals.

2. Density Transfer, Amenity Zoning and Local Area Plans: four meetings were held on this topic (three of which were attended by staff). The facilitator has submitted a report that effectively summarizes the range of option on the issues and reported that there was general consensus on desired outcomes. The number of participants was relatively small, but of those attending there was general feeling that lot clustering may have benefits and that density transfer could be considered on a case-by-case basis under circumstances that benefit environmentally sensitive areas (but that the tool should not result in the creation of a market for unused density).

With respect to amenity zoning, there were strong concerns about the use of the tool, but the consensus seemed to be that the tool could be considered on a case-by-case basis where the result clearly benefits the community.

However, despite the concerns of participants, I will also recommend that the LTC consider use of the tool to specifically further the Object of the Islands Trust – namely where it can preserve and protect the unique environment of the island. The Islands Trust Policy Statement directs the LTC to address protection of environmentally sensitive areas and significant natural sites, features and landforms in their planning areas (policy 3.1.3); policy 3.1.1 specifically identifies significant ecosystems to which protection must be given. Use of an incentive like amenity zoning can advance these policies and I suggest that the LTC should at least give it further consideration.

However, with respect to use of the tool to achieve general community benefits, I suggest that the LTC may want to give some further consideration to use of the tool within the context of housing policy during a review of the findings of the housing policy focus group.

There was consensus that there was no need to specifically authorize a local area plan process in the OCP. I will recommend that the LTC direct staff to undertake the following:

a. Lot Averaging: prepare draft policies that would permit the use of lot averaging with the goal of preserving large parcels with ecological or rural value.

b. Density Transfer: prepare a workshop session for the LTC on density transfer options using suitability mapping and the Community Viz application. While there seemed general support for density transfer to protect environmentally sensitive areas, the LTC should have the opportunity to assess the options using the suitability criteria and mapping tools introduced at the focus group sessions.

c. Amenity zoning: first, prepare draft policies for amenity zoning that would
clearly result in protection of environmentally sensitive areas – and which advances the Object of the Islands Trust and policies of the Islands Trust Policy Statement. Second, consider the use of the tool in the context of housing policy in a subsequent workshop meeting on the housing policy topic.

d. Local Area Plans: that there be no further work on this issue.

3. Development Permit Areas for the protection of the natural environment: the consensus of attendees was in favour of the use of the tool, with some concerns:

a. That the tool may be ineffective in some instances

b. That it not unduly infringe on owners’ use of their property

c. That the guidelines be clear.

The use of the tool was generally supported by participants. I have no hesitation recommending that the LTC consider the use of development permits for protection of the environment:

a. The use of the tool would advance the Object of the Islands Trust;

b. The use of the tool is consistent with Islands Trust Policy Statement
directive policy 3.1.3:

"Local trust committees and island municipalities shall, in their official community plans and regulatory bylaws, address the identification and protection of the environmentally sensitive areas and significant natural sites, features and landforms in their planning area."

c. The use of the tool is consistent with current planning practice and is widely used in other jurisdictions.

There are two components to effective use of the tool: good data upon which to base the designations and clear, effective and administerable guidelines. In order to address the first (data), there is uncertainty surrounding the use of the currently available mapping as a basis for designating DPA; and neither the SEI, nor ITEM mapping projects were intended to act as the basis of DPA designations.

I will recommend that the LTC direct staff to at least explore the feasibility and cost of updating the existing mapping. New air photos are available and joint funding may also be possible. Second, while the precise locations of all sensitive areas may not be currently available, there are standard science-based classifications and best management practices for the various ecosystems in the area. There is no reason that staff cannot be directed to start work on the objectives and guidelines the prior to the completion of any new
mapping work.

Finally, there was also support for considering DPA for areas that may be hazardous for development (this would principally be steep slope on North Pender). To effectively implement such a DPA better terrain mapping than is
currently available would be required. The LTC should consider directing staff to investigate the feasibility and cost of including new terrain mapping in any new mapping project for environmentally sensitive areas.

4. Development Permit Areas for the form and character of commercial and
industrial development:
the report from the two focus group meetings on this topic indicate that, while the meetings were sparsely attended, there was general consensus on the value of introducing commercial form and character DPA and on the overall objectives that such guidelines should seek to achieve (there
seemed more ambiguity with respect to industrial form and character). I will recommend that the LTC direct staff to proceed with drafting DPA objectives and guidelines: the use of this tool is consistent with current planning practice to control development impacts through site layout and design.

5. Commercial Accommodation Policies: the three meetings on this topic area were dominated by one issue – Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVR). This issue is the source also of the overwhelming majority of submissions and comments received by the LTC to date for the entire OCP review. The focus group report does an excellent job of summarizing the various positions on the topic. I will recommend that LTC consider the range of options related to potential regulation of the issue prior in some detail in a future workshop meeting prior to giving direction to staff on drafting policies. In addition, the LTC should also give some attention to the options related to campgrounds and commercially designated lands at that time.

6. Groundwater/Proof of Potable Water Policies: these meetings were supported by staff from Natural Resources Canada, who are piloting a groundwater vulnerability mapping initiative on North Pender. The participants at the meetings identified a number of policies that the LTC should address. Given the importance of the topic and the on-going willingness of Natural Resources Canada Staff to support the process, I will recommend that LTC consider reviewing options in depth before giving staff direction.

7. Park Acquisition/Trail Policies: all participants supported pre-designating parkland in the OCP. There was also support for these locations being selected in conjunction with the Parks Commission. I will recommend that the LTC direct staff to work with the Parks Commission to develop a draft map of future parkland and to consider designating future trails.

8. Housing Policy: these meetings resulted in a wide-ranging report addressing a number of topic areas, including seniors’ housing, affordable housing and cluster housing. Prior to providing direction to staff to prepare specific draft policies, I will recommend that the LTC consider the report in some greater depth at a future special meeting.

9. Home Industry Policies: the home industry focus group, though small, appears to have produced consensus on the desirability of establishing that home industry is an appropriate use. Although there would be issues with implementing some of the conditions specifically proposed in the focus group report, the findings form the basis for preparing home industry policies. I will recommend that LTC direct staff to proceed with preparing draft policies based on implementable focus group findings.

10. Agricultural Policies: the report on this topic is extensive and covers a variety of agricultural topics. Given the extent of discussion in the report and the number of recommendations, I will recommend that the LTC review the findings in more depth, in conjunction with a review of the existing policies. This should be a topic of more in-depth review by the LTC at a special meeting.

11. Transportation: the transportation focus group convener has submitted an extensive report that covers a range of issues related to the broad topic of transportation. While many of issues are important, much of it is beyond the scope of the LTC’s authority to address. I will recommend that the LTC review the findings during a subsequent special meeting and focus attention on one or two issues or potential policies that the LTC can affect or that have potential to be implemented. Staff will prepare more detailed comments for a subsequent meeting.


Stakeholder Group Comments:

1. Parks Canada: this agency has provided a fairly detailed response outlining its interests. These include having a unique National Park designation, ensuring that density transfer options are not precluded from lands that Parks Canada may purchase and policies encouraging appropriate setbacks from Parks land. This is consistent with the approach taken during the Associated Islands OCP/LUB process. The LTC should direct staff to start work on drafting policies reflecting the Parks Canada comments.

2. BC Ferries: requested redesignation of the upland lot to reflect the intended future uses. Staff will consider an appropriate designation on the draft land use map.

3. Pender Islands Parks Commission: this stakeholder group provided a detailed response on density transfer and amenity zoning. With respect to the use of amenity zoning, PIPC’s comments support amenity zoning only where the amenity would be land for park or conservation purposes or the cash equivalent for purchase of development potential on other properties. Similarly, density transfer should be considered in circumstances that result in expansion of existing parks or creation of new conservation areas. These comments appear broadly consistent with those provided by the focus group facilitator.

4. Ministry of Transportation and Liquor Control and Licensing: these two agencies provided standard responses.

5. Buck Lake Property Owners’ Association: this association has provided a submission, primarily concerned with STVRs. For the trustees’ information, I have also attached correspondence from other members of the association dissenting from these recommendations. The LTC may wish to consider this submission when it reviews STVR options.

A number of stakeholder groups had previously made submissions directly to the LTC prior to the formal solicitation of stakeholder input. These have been formally received by the LTC at various regular meetings over the past year and copies have been provided to trustees. Most were also submitted directly to the respective facilitators, and they have incorporated these in their reports, comments and recommendations.


Summary: the policy drafting stage can proceed on two tracks, with staff directed to commence work on preparing draft policies in certain areas or topics, and the LTC to
review other issues in greater depth.

1. Staff can now be directed to proceed with work which is of a technical nature and to prepare draft policies on topics where there is some consensus or clear direction. I am recommending that the LTC direct staff to commence work on the following:

a. Update wording and references in OCP.

b. Address Islands Trust Policy Statement directive policies.

c. Identify Islands Trust Policy Statement recommended policies.

d. Identify unimplemented policies in the OCP for LTC review.

e. Prepare draft land use maps.

f. Prepare draft policies on lot clustering and for amenity zoning based on protection of environmentally sensitive areas.

g. Prepare density transfer options for LTC consideration using suitability mapping and Community Viz software.

h. Prepare a proposal and budget for ecosystem and terrain mapping to support DPA for protection of the natural environment and hazards.

i. Prepare draft objectives and guidelines for environmental and hazard DPA.

j. Prepare draft objectives and guidelines for commercial and industrial DPA.

k. Outline options with respect to permitting or regulating STVR.

l. Outline options related to other forms of commercial accommodation for LTC review.

m. Continue to work with Natural Resources Canada on developing data relating to groundwater.

n. Work with the Parks Commission to pre-designate lands for park dedication and designate potential trails.

o. Outline policy options related to housing for LTC review.

p. Prepare draft policies for home industry based on the objectives of the focus group.

q. Outline agricultural policy options for LTC review.

r. Outline transportation policy options for LTC review.

s. Preparing draft policies for the Gulf Islands National Park lands and adjacent land uses.

2. The LTC, before directing staff to prepare draft policies, should consider using workshop formats in special meetings to address several topics. I’m recommending that LTC undertake a review of the following in greater depth:

a. Proposed revisions and additions to the OCP goals.

b. Options for density transfer using GIS mapping (and community viz).

c. All options related the issue of STVR.

d. Other aspects of commercial accommodation policy, including campgrounds and land designated for commercial accommodation.

e. Options relating to groundwater policies.

f. Potential policies relating to housing.

g. Potential policies relating to agriculture.

h. Potential policies relating to transportation.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee receive the reports of the eleven focus groups.

2. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee receive the stakeholder group submissions received to date.

3. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee thank the focus group facilitators, participants and stakeholder groups for their work.

4. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to identify any directive and recommended policies in the Islands Trust Policy Statement that are not addressed in the current OCP.

5. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to proceed with preparing draft revisions to the OCP that would replace or remove out-of-date language, references to out-of-date agencies and other groups, and out-of-date statutes and other enactments.

6. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to identify policies in the OCP that have not been implemented or that may need revision, and that have not otherwise been addressed in the focus group reports.

7. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to commence preparing draft OCP map schedules to replace the existing schedules.

8. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to commence preparing draft OCP policies for lot clustering.

9. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to bring further information and options on density transfer to a future LTC special meeting.

10. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to commence preparing draft OCP policies for amenity zoning that would result in preservation and protection of environmentally sensitive areas.

11. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee resolve that in order to more effectively implement designation of development permit areas for protection of the natural environment and hazardous conditions, updated mapping of environmentally sensitive areas and steep terrain should be initiated. Any new mapping should be consistent with established science-based criteria and utilize recent air photo data, local knowledge and ground verification.

12. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to prepare a draft proposal and budget for updated mapping of environmentally sensitive areas and steep terrain.

13. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to commence the preparation of draft objectives and guidelines for development permit areas for the protection of the natural environment and for protection of development from hazardous conditions.

14. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to prepare draft designations, objectives and guidelines for the form and character of commercial and industrial development.

15. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to prepare draft policies and maps pre-designating land eligible for future park designation and for possible trail locations in consultation with the Pender Islands Parks Commission and other affected groups or agencies.

16. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to prepare draft policies permitting home industry based on the applicable findings of the focus group on Home Industry.

17. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to draft new policies reflecting the status and recommendations of Parks Canada with respect to lands within the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and with respect to adjacent land uses.

18. THAT the North Pender Island Local Trust Committee direct staff to schedule at least two special LTC meetings in July and August for the purpose of allowing the LTC to review policy options on the issues of OCP Goals, commercial accommodation, groundwater, housing and transportation.

Respectfully submitted by:
Robert Kojima
Date: June 22, 2005

 

 

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