Construction crews work on Southpoint Ridge in May 2019. (Black Press Media file photo)

Construction crews work on Southpoint Ridge in May 2019. (Black Press Media file photo)

Development process in Langford illuminated

Official Community Plan a key component says long-time staffer

There are a couple of key points to bear in mind for anyone planning to purchase property in Langford.

Matthew Baldwin, director of planning for the City of Langford, stresses the importance of getting familiar with the official community plan (OCP), as well as the zoning specific to your property and neighbouring properties.

“Part of what sometimes gets overlooked is that every city has an OCP that gets updated periodically,” noted Baldwin, who started with Langford in 1997 and has served as director of planning since 2007. “Ours was updated in 2019 with input from Avi Friedman, an internationally renowned planner, architect and teacher.”

The OCP sets the boundaries of what is considered the city centre, with land use and density determined at the time of zoning.

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“The OCP is the aspiration, zoning is the rules that govern development,” he said. “That would include density and height and must be consistent with the OCP. We can’t prescribe prior to someone having a proposal what development would occur in that land. The physical and economic considerations play significant roles in determining development. It is up to the developer to do the necessary research.”

Completing the research before the plan is presented to the city can be an expensive endeavour for the developer, Baldwin added.

While each municipality has some leeway with the development process, all must follow the Local Government Act.

“Where processes differ from municipality to municipality is what occurs in order to get the application to council. Langford decided at incorporation that they wanted council’s input early on in the process to provide better information and accountability. In Langford’s case, citizens are included on our planning, zoning and affordable housing committee.”

Langford holds public hearings for all rezoning applications to give council the opportunity to access feedback from the public.

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“Granting zoning is granting social license to develop,” he said. “The zoning process is to enable council to weigh the public good of the development proposal against the public impact. Things that are generally termed community amenities or impact assessments is council looking for public compensation for the density that’s being granted.”

Amenities may include funding, parks, roads, sidewalks, schools, sewers, or any other items from a long list of considerations. The framework in the OCP guides environmental assessments and traffic.

“Variances tend to be minor issues meant to make the proposal a better project,” Baldwin said.

There are other important factors to consider before purchasing property other than the OCP, he added. “If you’re not from the region, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the Capital Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy.”

More information is available at crd.bc.ca/project/regional-growth-strategy.

“If you’re moving to the area with school-age kids, you should check with the school board to see what new schools they may have in the pipeline.” Visit sd62.bc.ca.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

City of Langford