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Understanding changes to the Official Community Plan

Document outlines new population goals, plans for land use
 | October 12, 2022
Photo: On Oct. 12, the final draft was brought to a public hearing. Photo by Kyle James.

As Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality’s (SPMRM) revised Official Community Plan (OCP) nears adoption, SPIN spoke with the consultant who led the project to learn what the document’s biggest changes are.

Over the past several months, Selkirk Planning & Design and TRUE Consulting have completed community engagement through surveys, an open house, one-on-one meetings and an online workshop. Using the feedback, they produced two OCP drafts for feedback. On Oct. 12, the final draft was brought to a public hearing, which is one of the last steps required before council can officially adopt it.

Gerry Melenka, the project lead, said the OCP is a high level document that guides land use decisions and community planning in a general sense. SPMRM’s initial OCP was formed in 2014 and has not been updated since.

“We’re not really redrafting the OCP — we’ve been cognisant that we’re referring to it as a refresh,” Melenka said. “We’re just looking at the various numbers and pieces of information in there and updating them … In terms of mapping and road layout [as well as] future land uses, there’s significant changes that needed to be reflected.”

Melenka said one of the biggest changes is population projections. The previous OCP estimated Sun Peaks would have a population of 1,500 by 2031, which the community has almost met already. 

In the refreshed plan, consultants estimated a population of around 2,143 by 2035, which is a lower growth rate than the community has seen over the past census period.

“We aren’t suggesting that rate is going to continue; I think it’s pretty aggressive,” Melenka said. “The OCP will be reviewed in years to come in Sun Peaks the way every other OCP is in the province, so they’ll revisit the numbers and say, ‘OK, are we still on track?’”

Melenka said there were also changes to reflect School District 73 taking over Sun Peaks Elementary, as well as updates to the health care centre now that there is a permanent facility.

Additionally, the updated OCP suggests zoning future subdivisions closer to the village as tourist accommodation and other subdivisions further out as strictly residential.

Otherwise, the OCP’s vision and guiding principles didn’t change much, although some of the language in it was updated. Melenka said they tried to make the document more clear and easier to read, in particular the land use section.

“We included employee housing in there in the land use category, which wasn’t there in the previous OCP,” he said. “The updated [Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR)] Master Plan sort of calls out employee housing and recognizes the need for it … We also felt it important to identify the parcels of land throughout the Sun Peaks area that are slated for employee housing.”

Melenka said Sun Peaks is unique because in most communities the OCP is the highest level document, but SPMRM must reflect and follow SPR’s Master Plan due to an agreement between the resort and the province governing developments on Crown land. 

SPR is waiting for further information from the province and municipality before it can finalize its updated master plan, so leadership declined an interview with SPIN. They said the document should be finalized within the next few weeks.

Melenka said in regards to what impacts the OCP, the most substantial change in the Master Plan is future development in the East Village.

“They’ve moved it down a bit more into the valley and condensed it,” he said. “Their domestic plan is using somewhat less land and proposing more dense housing in terms of townhouses, hotels, what have you. In that respect, there is less footprint impact on the communities and surrounding areas.”

Melenka added that mapping in the OCP allocates space in the East Village for “general institutional uses,” which is where the Master Plan designates land for the new school, daycare and an additional fire hall.

Overall, Melenka said throughout the OCP process he was happy to see the level of engagement that came from the community. 

“Everybody’s had an interest in providing input one way or another,” he said. “It’s been a very good experience to have that many people involved.”

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