Esquimalt’s new OCP includes plans for development at Head Street and Esquimalt Road. News files

New Official Community Plan to get first reading in Esquimalt

Several months delayed, draft bylaw addresses housing, growth, land use

At a special meeting of council tomorrow, the Township of Esquimalt will hear the first reading of its draft Official Community Plan bylaw, now several months delayed.

Originally scheduled to be released last fall, Esquimalt calls its OCP a framework to guide future growth in a sustainable way. The last Official Community Plan was adopted in 2007.

“An Official Community Plan is not a static document,” the bylaw reads. “It should respond to changes in the community, including its values and social, economic and environmental conditions and changing regulations and authorities.”

Of note in the draft bylaw are the anticipated housing needs for the community of 17,655 residents.

Census numbers show the number of single detached homes fell 1.7 per cent, while apartments in buildings with five or more stories increased by 23.1 per cent between 2011 and 2016.

“This data … clearly shows a trend toward multi family dwellings,” the bylaw reads.

Currently, 664 housing units have had their zoning approved; a number adequate to accommodate a growing population at a rate of 7.5 per cent over the next five years.

The draft also states Esquimalt is in good shape to accommodate its housing needs because the amount of land required for multi-unit developments has not yet reached its max, according to new land use designations.

Those land designation changes include allowing for more commercial opportunities along Admirals Road, Tillicum and Craigflower. As well, increasing densification in some areas, and amending parks and open space designation on ALR land.

At Head Street and Esquimalt Road, the goal is to create commercial mixed-use development that “should occur at a neighbourhood scale.”

The OCP also lays out the goal of encouraging increased use of cycling in the Township, enhancing infrastructure where feasible and encouraging the inclusion of bicycle facilities in all new developments.

In celebrating Esquimalt’s heritage, the bylaw states it intends to work with local First Nations to incorporate more Lekwungen place names within the Township.

Mayor Barb Desjardins said there will be opportunities for public input at various stages of the process, including a public hearing.

The special meeting of council is scheduled for 5:45 p.m., March 26 at municipal hall.

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