Frequently Asked Questions

Electoral Area Planning Projects

Village Planning Project - Electoral Area 'H'

The following are some of the questions that came up at the beginning of the Village Planning Process with answers to the questions based on the best available information available at that time.

The purpose of this page was to provide responses to questions raised during the Village Planning Process to provide some context for people who may not be familiar with the project.

Why was a village planning process initiated in Area 'H'?

The Area 'H' Official Community Plan calls for the completion of village centre plans before the next OCP review. There has been a fair bit of development taking place in Area 'H' in recent years, and there is a need to better understand how village centres in Area 'H' might develop in the future. Village planning can provide more detailed direction and policies that reflect how the residents of Electoral Area 'H' wish to see the village centres change and grow over time.

While the Official Community Plan identified the three village centres of Dunsmuir, Qualicum Bay and Bowser, and provided some guidance for these areas, the Advisory Committee for the project recommended that the focus for the planning process should be the Bowser Village Centre. The Advisory Committee acknowledged that the other village centres should be addressed at a later date.

[ Click Here ] to view more background information on this project, and why community participation was so vital.

What are "Village Centres"?

From an RDN perspective, a "village centre" is an area identified in general by the Regional Growth Strategy and in more detail by Official Community Plans, where the future development of more compact, mixed-use centres is encouraged. The development of more compact, mixed-use village centres is intended to:
  • help reduce the amount of rural land consumed
  • create a more efficient footprint of development requiring servicing, and
  • create more opportunities for people's needs to be met closer to home, thus reducing the need for reliance and travel by car and to open up more opportunities for people to walk or cycle to access goods and services (and possibly opening up opportunities for alternative modes of travel linking village centres to other areas in the region)
  • create opportunities for a range of housing types, helping to provide greater housing choices to address a variety of housing needs, and
  • help provide focal points and to help create a sense of place/identity
The Regional Growth Strategy recognized that the boundaries, scale, character, types of uses and how these areas develop should be determined at the local level as a part of the Official Community Planning process.

At an open house during the Village Planning process, people were asked to share their definitions of different words, including "village centres". Here is what folks had to say: A "Village Centre" is...

  • where people meet, while going about everyday activities such as shopping;
  • commercial and cultural hub of a community - place to build social capital
  • a core of services that benefit all members of the community
  • where local businesses (esp. coffee shops, restaurants) bring people together
  • vibrant - with places to go and meet others
  • one that lets commerce grow through investment of capital

How does Sustainability fit into the picture?

The Regional District of Nanaimo, through its 2006-2009 Strategic Plan, through signing onto the BC Climate Action Charter, and through the Regional Growth Strategy, has committed to working to become a more sustainable region. The Electoral Area 'H' Community, through its current Official Community Plan, has adopted a Community Values statement which embraces many sustainability principles.

The community was asked in June 2008, whether there should be a set of sustainability principles to help guide the project, and whether it made sense to use the RDN documents as a basis for developing those principles. The response was mostly favourable.

One of the first steps in the project was to work together to think about sustainability, and what it means to Area 'H' citizens, and together to identify a number of sustainability principles that can help guide the approach to the Village Planning project.

Will village planning lead to increased costs that people may not be able to afford?

Since the project is just beginning, and there has not been an opportunity to explore community preferences around village centres and village planning, and what is needed to accommodate those preferences, it isn't possible to know what the cost implications or other implications might be at this time. As we begin to work through issues & opportunities we will be encouraging the community to consider associated benefits and costs.

Questions can be directed to:
RDN Strategic and Community Development Department

Email: planning@rdn.bc.ca
Phone: 250-390-6510
Toll Free: 1-877-607-4111
Fax: 250-390-7511
Mail to: Regional District of Nanaimo
Strategic and Community Development Department
6300 Hammond Bay Road
Nanaimo BC V9T 6N2