Rural Village Centres Study

Rural Village Centres Study The 2011 Regional Growth Strategy aims to encourage a diverse mix of land uses in Rural Village Centres that, allow people to live, work, play and learn within a walkable environment. However, since RVC's were first established nearly fifteen years ago, only a few of the 14 RVC's have evolved into areas with the characteristics associated with mixed-use, complete, compact communities. Click Here to See a Map of the Rural Village Centres

The 2011 RGS notes that "questions have been raised about the ability of some of these areas to accommodate growth because of the significant costs associated with providing community sewer and water services". In recognition of these concerns, the RDN retained DIALOG with G.P. Rollo & Associates to conduct an objective, technical review of Rural Village Centres (RVCs).

The Rural Village Centre Study was completed in February 2013 and received by the RDN Board on March 26, 2013. The study fulfills RGS Policy 4.11 to undertake a study of Rural Village Centres in order to "identify those locations that have the most potential for evolving into mixed-use centres" with the following characteristics:

  • Be planned and designed as pedestrian - oriented and transit supportive;
  • Be compact, complete and compatible in character with local context;
  • Attract and support local commercial development;
  • Attract and support local community services and amenities (e.g. schools, community centres, libraries, etc.);
  • Support regular transit service; and,
  • Demonstrate how their development will contribute to the goals of the RGS.


A total of 15 areas were evaluated in the study. This included 13 of the Region's 14 Rural Village Centres plus two additional study areas (SAs) in Dashwood and Deep Bay. Click Here to see a map of the areas included in the study.

Including Dashwood and Deep Bay areas in the study allowed for them to be considered objectively as part of a technical, quantitative evaluation that shows how they perform relative to existing RVCs and within a larger regional growth management context. The study also provides potential implications of designating additional RVCs in Dashwood and Deep Bay upon neighbouring RVCs.

The study uses an evaluation framework to measure existing conditions in each area that reflect characteristics of complete, compact communities within a rural context. The criteria used for analysis were grouped into three categories: community structure/design and land use; development and market viability; and, water and sewage infrastructure.


Combining results from all three evaluation categories, the Rural Village Centres and Study Areas are ranked as follows:
  • Cedar ranks the highest in all three categories;
  • Bowser, Red Gap, Coombs, and Fairwinds perform the second best, ranking highest in two of three categories;
  • Bellevue - Church Road, Cassidy, Errington, Dashwood SA, Deep Bay SA, Extension, Hilliers, Qualicum Bay, and Dunsmuir rank in the mid to low range in all categories; and
  • Qualicum River Estates ranks the lowest, scoring lowest in all categories.
Please refer to the study for more details.

Retail Sales Capture Targets

In addition to the Study, the RDN requested G.P. Rollo & Associates to provide information for each Rural Village Centre showing target retail sales capture rates by retail category and associated retail spending potential that would be captured over time given projected population growth. These capture rates represent the portion of spending from nearby residents of each RVC that is likely to be captured for different retail categories. This information is useful for understanding how much retail space could potentially be supported for different types of retail sales in each RVC.

Public Engagement

Given the technical nature of the study and the need for objectivity, public and stakeholder input into the process did not influence the outcomes of the study. At the same time the value of public engagement was recognized and opportunities provided for community members to find out more about the project and discuss issues relating to RVCs that mattered to them.

The following documents provide information on the feedback received during engagement activities:

A binder with a summary of feedback from public engagement along with a record of all written input received as part of the study is available at the RDN offices (6300 Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo) and at the Bowser Library (unit 111 - 6996 W Island Hwy). The results of public engagement provide context for the RDN Board when considering how to use the results of the study.

The RVC Study is an objective, technical evaluation that does not result in any immediate land use changes. Its purpose is to enable the RDN Board to make informed decisions about future land use and infrastructure provision that impact local communities and the region as a whole.

Should the RDN Board propose to make changes to Rural Village Centre boundaries in Official Community Plans and the RGS then this would require consultation opportunities for residents in the whole region as well as specific electoral area communities.

Background Information

A Rural Village Centre Inventory was conducted to support the study. The inventory provides baseline information on the location, land use, servicing, community amenities, environmental considerations, potential limitations and other related information for each Rural Village Centre included in the study.

Other background information to support this project can be found in the Regional Growth Strategy, and under Relevant Documents on the RGS Website.

For more information: e-mail: growthmanagement@rdn.bc.ca Tel: 250-390-6510 or District 69: 250-954-3798 Toll free: 1-877-607-4111