West Kelowna council has given first reading to its new official community plan.
The district will now schedule a public hearing to gather public input about the plan before moving it to the remaining three readings required to be adopted.
Described as a guiding principle for future types of development in West Kelowna, OCPs are often considered blueprints for how municipalities plan to grow in the short- to medium-terms.
Official community plans, while mandatory, can be changed as variances can be given by councils to veer away from plan requirements.
The 206-page document contains maps of what areas are earmarked for what type of future development, as well as transportation, greenspace, water and a host of other issues. It’s also the overriding document for planning and contains other plans that look at specific areas of the municipality.
The OCP was presented to councillors prior to going to the official public hearing because the bylaw authorizing it requires first reading prior to that hearing.
Mayor Doug Findlater said he was pleased overall with the plan, calling it an “interim” step, given that it will be reviewed in five years. “And we can also amend it as we go,” he added.
The plan’s reference to Westbank and Boucherie as two main centres of the municipality generated some discussion among those on council.
“If Westbank is the administrative and cultural centre, Boucherie is really our sport centre,” Findlater said, noting the presence of Royal LePage Place and Jim Lind Arena, as well as other sports fields and facilities nearby.
But Coun. Bryden Winsby questioned the focus on Boucherie. “I’m not someone who has bought into the Boucherie Centre concept.”
Describing the picture of a “dog bone” shaped municipality with centres at each end, Winsby said he was not sure if the two-centre concept would work.
Council also was concerned enough by the document’s reference to Westbank being the future home to municipal offices that it voted to change that reference to “potential” home instead during a later discussion on the Westbank Centre plan.
Council also decided to make the stalled urgent heath care centre, slated for land at Butt Road and Elliot Road, a top priority when it comes to needed facilities for the district.
The health centre concept has the support of Interior Health but other budgeting priorities in the health region mean the money to build it isn’t available right now.
As a result, the Westbank health centre has dropped down IH’s priority list since first being announced.
Another issue that caught council’s eye was the need to investigate the long-term location of a solid waste collection facility in the district.
Coun. Duane Ophus strongly opposed West Kelowna saying in the plan that it would investigate that because solid waste disposal is a regional district responsibility. But the rest of council said it was important residents realize that the municipality is prepared to seek alternatives, possibly through different technology, and they voted to make it a policy rather than an action in the plan.
No date has been set for the OCP public hearing yet.