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What is this project about ?

Electoral Area Planning Projects
Village Planning Project - Electoral Area 'H'

What is the Village Planning Project About?

The Regional District of Nanaimo Board adopted the Bowser Village Centre Plan as an amendment to the Electoral Area 'H' Official Community Plan on June 8, 2010. The information below is a description of the process used during the Village Planning Project to develop the Bower Village Centre Plan.

Background

The Electoral Area 'H' Official Community Plan (OCP), adopted in 2004, identifies and provides guidance on the development of three village centres in Electoral Area 'H'. They are named the Dunsmuir, Qualicum Bay and Bowser Village Centres.

OCP Map
RDN map showing the location of the Dunsmuir, Qualicum Bay and Bowser village centre areas
(as per the current Electoral Area 'H' Official Community Plan)

In addition to providing policy direction for the village centres, the OCP directs that village centre plans be carried out within 5 years or before the next OCP review. At the request of the Area Director, and based on community interest and OCP direction, the RDN allocated funding in 2008 to start working with the community to look at village planning.

Background research for this project began in mid-April, 2008 and involved a review of the existing planning policies for the area, a look at the physical changes taking place in the Dunsmuir to Deep Bay areas, and consideration of other factors which might influence how to go about planning for village centres in Area 'H'.

In addition to in-house research, and time spent touring the community, the RDN held an Open House in June 2008 to share background information on the village centres and to better understand, from a community perspective, the scope of issues and opportunities related to the village centres in Area 'H'. While we did not receive a large number of questionnaire responses, the responses we did receive were quite varied and helped identify a broad range of issues and opportunities related to the village centres and village planning in general. Feedback highlights:

  • Changes in the community are being noticed, in terms of residential and population growth, particularly in the Bowser and Deep Bay areas
  • Support to develop a set of sustainability principles that would guide village planning
  • Questions regarding the location, size or boundaries of the village centres
  • Support to prepare "village plans" as opposed to "village centre plans", the difference being that village plan(s) would help to provide a more holistic picture of how village centres relate to the surrounding area
  • A range of issues and opportunities related to:
    • Mobility (road safety & alternatives to car travel)
    • Location and types of commercial and tourist uses
    • Health and family services
    • Infrastructure
    • Affordable housing/Seniors Housing
    • Open spaces in village centres
    • Sustainability
    • Environmental protection
    • Sense of place, community identity, and how much and what type of growth is desired.
    • The future of the Dunsmuir, Qualicum Bay, Bowser, and Deep Bay areas, and the roles of each of these areas
    • Financial implications
  • Everyone in the community should have the opportunity to participate in this project, and efforts should be made to encourage groups who are typically under-represented
  • A range of communication methods should be considered, including open houses, newsletters, e-mail and advertisements through The Beacon. Based on initial research and community feedback, it became clearer that further discussions at the local level are needed to better understand the Area 'H' Community's preferences with respect to development of village centres and village planning generally. Work is also required to better understand what is needed to support these preferences. Once this 'groundwork' is completed, it will be easier to understand what type of plan(s) are needed to help address the development of village centres and village planning in Area 'H'.
The Community also indicated that planning should be guided by sustainability principles. The RDN Board of Directors supported this approach, which is in keeping with the Strategic Plan Vision Statement at the time. [ Click Here ] to to view the RDN 2006-2009 Strategic Plan [ 5MB PDF] Based on initial research and community feedback, a Project Terms of Reference (a work program) was prepared and approved by the RDN over the summer months.

Project Objectives

  1. To carry out a planning process that is based on Sustainability Principles, and which assists the Area 'H' Community in determining how it would like to address these principles through village centres and village planning.
  2. To prepare a village plan(s) which provides comprehensive guidelines for the development of village centres, and which recognizes the relationship of the village centres to one another and to the surrounding areas.
Supporting goals include:
  • To carry out a public participation process which provides opportunities for all interested residents, business owners, community interest groups, and government agencies to participate in village planning for Area 'H';
  • To encourage those people, groups or agencies who are most affected by an issue, or that have an ability to assist in understanding or problem solving around an issue, to participate;
  • To encourage an integrated approach to planning by identifying matters where a multi-disciplinary approach (i.e. involving a combination of land use, transportation, parks and environmental planning, engineering, architecture and/or other disciplines)would be useful, and by creating opportunities for multi-disciplinary discussions and solutions; and,
  • To provide a planning process which acknowledges that there may be a variety of perspectives on a number of matters and which provides a respectful and productive approach to consensus building.

Key Steps in the Work Program

The Terms of Reference for the project, prepared by RDN staff, is an outline of the work that is required in order to achieve the project's objectives. The work program is based on a comprehensive public consultation process, where RDN staff work with the Community through a series of steps:
  1. Establishing a set of sustainability principles to guide the project.
  2. Discussing what these principles mean in the context of the Dunsmuir to Deep Bay areas, and in the context of village centres and village planning. Considering questions like what is working well? What isn't working as well? Why?
  3. Looking at solutions/options.
  4. Preparing plan(s).
  5. Incorporate results into the Electoral Area 'H' OCP/Regional Growth Strategy.

Who's involved

The work program is built around a public participation process which provided opportunities for all interested residents, business owners, community interest groups and government agencies to become involved. A key goal and challenge of the project was to encourage those people, groups or agencies who are most affected by an issue, or that have an ability to assist in understanding or problem solving around an issue, to participate.

Given the interest expressed on the part of the Community to participate actively in the project, the RDN amended the Project Terms of Reference on October 14, 2008 so that those who really wanted to take an active role in the planning project could work together as an advisory group and that membership to this group remained open throughout the project.

The Advisory Group met regularly throughout the project to confirm and prioritize local issues, act as information sources for both the community as a whole and staff, and help to guide the village plan preparation process. All interested residents, landowners, and stakeholders were invited to participate in the advisory group.

[ Click Here ] to find out more about the Area 'H' Village Planning Advisory Group.

The Project Terms of Reference also recognized that there are a number of government agencies who are often involved in implementing the policies and guidelines that communities desire. The work program recognized the importance of interdepartment/interagency consultation and cooperation, and RDN Planning staff assisted in facilitating discussions with these agencies as the project proceeded.

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