Housing Density, Affordability and Growth

The challenge of affordable housing is a complex one.  No one entity or approach holds all the answers, but following broad public engagement last year, SCRD staff have brought forwards proposed additions to all Rural Areas’ Official Community Plans to promote densification in core areas, and to a lesser degree, other residentially-zoned areas.

The intent is to avoid “Rural Sprawl” with its ensuing ecological, social and economic impacts, and to direct growth centered on Roberts Creek’s “downtown” core. A principle that underlies this approach is that transportation is a key piece of the affordability puzzle, and that proximity to “downtown” services, shops, schools and Transit make for a relatively cheaper lifestyle.

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A quick look at the Roberts Creek OCP’s Land Use Map. More detail at scrd.ca/Roberts-Creek

The proposed Official Community Plan Amendments build on the work done during our community’s 2010-2012 OCP Review and include the addition of a section intended to lay out specific criteria for considering the location and constraints around  densification proposals. The specific amendments can be found in the staff report linked to below, but they include:

-acknowledging that most residential properties that are zoned for a second dwelling haven’t yet built one, so existing infill opportunities should be incentivized.

-encourage cluster, multi-unit, and other densification approaches in the Village Amenity/Density Bonus Area (see map below) or similar areas, and considering the subdivision of lots in that area to a size as small as 1/4 acre, subject to a variety of conditions

-outside of the central core, giving consideration to subdivision of properties that exceed existing limits if services and community amenities are present, and if the design is compatible with the neighbourhood

-the use of Local Government Housing Agreements to ensure that larger developments provide land, housing units, or cash that could be used to support housing affordability.

Of note is that all increases in density beyond existing levels would need to go through a zoning amendment public process including notification of neighbours, public information meetings, advisory committee referrals, a public hearing and eventually a vote by the SCRD Board.

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RC’s Village Density Area, below the Highway and bracketed by Marlene and Blackburn Roads

The proposed amendments have received the support of both the Roberts Creek Advisory Planning Commission and the Official Community Plan Committee during the referral process.

The bylaw changes received Second Reading by the Board and a Public Hearing has been scheduled for July 23rd, 7PM in the SCRD Boardroom up at the Field Rd. SCRD offices. Written submissions can either be made in advance to Senior Planner Yuli Siao via email at Yuli.Siao@scrd.ca or verbally or in writing at the meeting.

The staff report and accompanying amendments are a challenging read. For the next few Saturdays in July prior to the Public Hearing I will be sure to bring maps and other resources to my usual Saturday morning Gumboot Office Hours. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in delving deeper into this topic to come and see me prior to the Public Hearing.

Here is a Link to Report (begins on Page 37)  Roberts Creek’s proposed OCP amendments can be found on Page 53: http://www.scrd.ca/files/File/Administration/Agendas/2018/2018-JUN-14%20PCD%20Agenda%20Package%20-%20PART%201%20ANNEX%20A%20-%20F.pdf

Our Official Community Plan is a high level planning document that sets the vision for communities. Of note also on this topic are the opportunities presented by the review of our main zoning Bylaw 310, (including its existing density provisions) so watch for the chance to learn about and have input into that process in the Fall.