South Cowichan OCP approved

After more than five years, the mega-South Cowichan Official Community Plan has been given the thumbs up.

But some south end residents’ thumbs are down on the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s approval of a combined plan for mapping the future of Mill Bay, Shawnigan Lake, and Cobble Hill.

The CVRD OK’d the 10-year document Wednesday night at its board meeting.

Some who expressed concerns felt the document had been rushed.

CVRD board chairwoman Gerry Giles, however, didn’t think the five years spent by the 22 members of the OCP steering committee polishing the plan qualified as “rushed.”

She and other directors were quite tickled with the document, which boasts its own heritage conservancy section.

“The heritage component of it recognizes the unique history that has brought each community to where it is today and I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ve recognized that heritage plays an important role in the creation and sustaining a community,” Giles has said.

Heritage jewels, aside, the document delves into a number of general principles, goals and visions.

An OCP is a community plan that guides development and land use for the next 10 years and beyond. The draft contains four parts: a main document and a section for each area (Cobble Hill, Shawnigan Lake and Mill Bay).

Sahtlam/Glenora Director Loren Duncan reminded the board of the long road ahead, as the CVRD will have to go through a lengthy process of bringing its zoning bylaws in line with the OCP policies and procedures.

Cobble Hill resident Joseph Gollner made his concerns about the OCP public at the June 27 public hearing.

Some of his qualms included CVRD plans to purchase south-end sewer systems and lack of information on the costs and future tax increases related to that.

He was also concerned with how difficult the document is to understand for the average Joe.

“It’s virtually incomprehensible for anyone than a trained planner to follow, and probably by design,” he had said.

“Why is this being shoved down our throat?”

But Giles, along with directors Brian Harrison (Mill Bay) and Ken Cossey (Shawnigan Lake), thanked the committee members.

“The dedication and commitment to community they showed to me was absolutely incredible,” Giles said. “I think they are to be absolutely commended by this board and citizens in the South Cowichan area.”

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