After months of planning, debating and holding numerous workshops, Lantzville finally has an official community plan worthy of review.
Lantzville councillors voted 6-1 in favour of sending a heavily amended official community plan draft to a handful of agencies for review, including the City of Nanaimo, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Regional District of Nanaimo and Island Health.
Councillors’ decision on March 12 was the culmination of months of planning, failed meetings and confusion over the official community plan process. In October, the district released the first draft version of its OCP.
A few months later during a committee of the whole meeting, councillors voted on series of motions that paved the way for changes to the district’s draft OCP. Those changes were not adopted because council failed to extend the meeting, resulting in a situation in which councillors agreed to make changes but did not officially adopt those changes.
Prior to the March 12 meeting, a handful of residents commented on the process and called on councillors to hold off on adopting a draft copy of the OCP until after the October municipal election.
Resident Paul Tedeschini said he was shocked by the “lack of integrity” shown by district staff and councillors throughout the entire OCP process. He said he was concerned about the changes made by district staff and called for councillors to hold off on the OCP process.
“It it really feels like there is a lot going on here that is not above board. The whole thing, sadly, needs to be scrapped,” he said. “It is not the time to be deciding this because the community actually, now can see what is going on. They can see who is behind the curtain and what is going on and it stinks and the people who are behind it; it is so obvious, the greed.”
Lantzville councillors made more than a dozen amendments to the OCP, including requiring “proponents of redevelopment” to enter into written agreement in order to receive density bonuses and requiring zoning bylaws to indicate the maximum allowable densities both with and without the amenity contribution requirements. Council didn’t include language that called for the removal of one unit per hectare and replacing it with three units per hectare in the parkland dedication and density bonus portion of the OCP.
Speaking to the News Bulletin afterwards, Coun. Bob Colclough said he was pleased to see that the OCP is off for review, even though he didn’t like how the OCP turned out.
“I am not happy with the product .. but it is time to get on. It is the will of council so let’s get on with it.”
Colclough, who had originally made the motion to alter the density bonus portion of the OCP, explained that the idea behind his proposed amendments was to give Lantzville flexibility in dealing with developers.
“I felt that restricting the density, first of all I thought it was inappropriate and we got a legal opinion that said it is inappropriate to put it in an OCP and a zoning bylaw,” he said. “The other thing is the incentives that might entice somebody to come and make an application were minimal, they were one unit per hectare bonus, which in my opinion, are not worth applying for because there is a time and cost factor,” adding that what he wanted to do was remove the caps and allow council to evaluate proposals on their own merits and have enough potential density bonusing to be able to negotiate with developers.
Coun. John Coulson was the only councillor opposed to approving the OCP for review.