How the Plan Works
The OCP is a legal document that functions together with other City policies, strategies, plans and bylaws.
In addition, the OCP includes a Regional Context Statement – a policy tool that demonstrates how OCP aligns with Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy. The regional strategy is a shared commitment by all Metro Vancouver municipalities to advance the livability and sustainability of the region.
The OCP guides the overall future of New Westminster and provides a broad framework for managing future growth and change. In some cases, further detail on implementation of the various policy areas can be found in other plans, strategies, policies and bylaws. The City’s Affordable Housing Strategy, Master Transportation Plan, and Community Energy and Emissions Plan are examples of policy documents that work collaboratively with the OCP to help implement the vision. The OCP is also one of the tools for translating the intent of Envision 2032, the City's Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP), into the development of the community.
The Zoning Bylaw is a regulatory tool that includes more specific requirements that new development must comply with (e.g. permitted density, site coverage, land use and parking). The OCP is a high-level policy tool that is often less prescriptive than the Zoning Bylaw. The OCP includes land use designations and the Land Use Designation Map, which show the type and location of growth that Council is likely to support. Council cannot approve a rezoning application that is not consistent with the OCP.
As an example, the OCP designates the majority of East Columbia Street as Mixed Use – Low Rise. This designation allows “low rise buildings which include commercial uses (e.g. retail, office) and which may also include residential uses.” Most of the properties in this area are zoned Community Commercial Districts (C2-A), which regulates what uses are permitted (e.g. retail stores, restaurants), what density is permitted, the height the building can be (a maximum of 40 feet), and required setbacks from property lines. In this way the Zoning Bylaw helps to implement the OCP.
All OCPs are prepared under the authority of the Local Government Act (LGA). The LGA describes an OCP as a comprehensive guiding document, primarily in relation to land use planning. The LGA outlines required policy components (e.g. approximate location, amount and type of residential development to meet the community's expected housing needs for the next five years) and optional components (e.g. policies relating to social well-being in the community). Historically, New Westminster has chosen to include a wide range of optional policy areas in the OCP, including social, cultural, economic and environmental policies, where a local government can influence community success and livability.
The LGA states that a local government is not obligated to immediately meet the objectives of the OCP or to undertake any project included in the plan, or to retroactively amend existing bylaws. However, all of the City's subsequent policies, plans, capital projects or bylaws must conform to the adopted OCP. For example, the Zoning Bylaw and the Subdivision and Development Bylaw should be made consistent with the OCP over time.
In 2011, Metro Vancouver adopted a new Regional Growth Strategy titled Metro Vancouver 2040 - Shaping our Future.
The purpose of the strategy is to manage population expansion while advancing livability and sustainability – a shared commitment by Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities. The Strategy sets out goals, strategies and policies to guide the future growth of the region and provides the land use framework for transportation, economic, housing, utility (water, liquid waste and solid waste), environmental and climate change planning.
The Regional Growth Strategy includes parcel based land use designations, and six broad land use categories. Each municipality’s more detailed land use designations align with these broad designations. The General Urban designation is intended to accommodate the majority of the region’s growth which is focused in Urban Centres and transit rich locations. The land use designation map and overall strategy are explicit about where growth can't go. For example, the strategy protects important industrial land through the Industrial designation. Changing the use of a property identified in the Regional Growth Strategy as Industrial requires an amendment to the Strategy that must be approved by the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors. As a result, it is expected that the land in the Braid, Stewardson and Queensborough industrial areas will remain industrial.
Click here to visit the Regional Growth Strategy website.
What is a Regional Context Statement?
A Regional Context Statement (RCS) is a policy tool that demonstrates how a City's Official Community Plan (OCP) aligns with a Regional Growth Strategy. Every Metro Vancouver municipality is required to include a Regional Context Statement in their OCP.
Metro Vancouver 2040 was taken into account when creating the OCP. The OCP, including the Land Use Designation Map, is consistent with the regional strategy.
Click here to view New Westminster's Regional Context Statement.