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New Westminster official community plan hits the final lap

OCP will go to a public hearing on Monday, Sept. 18
Official community plan
New Westminster planner Lynn Roxburgh chats with residents during the official community plan process.

After three years of consulting and planning, the City of New Westminster’s official community plan (OCP) update is heading toward the finish line.

On June 26, council gave two readings to the official community plan amendment bylaw, which, when adopted, would replace the city’s 2011 plan. The city launched the OCP update in the spring of 2014.

Lynn Roxburgh, a senior planner with the city, said she’s grateful to the numerous people who participated in workshops and open houses, stopped by a community booth at various events, invited staff to discuss the OCP at residents associations’ meetings, sent emails, called and submitted petitions during the three-year-process.

“It’s been great to see how engaged the community has been throughout these three years. We are grateful for their time and their commitment to the process,” she told council Monday. “We are really excited to be at this last stage.”

Community members are invited to comment on the OCP or ask questions about the plan at a public hearing in council chambers on Monday, Sept. 18.

The official community plan aims to provide a vision for New Westminster to 2041 and a regulatory framework to guide the city’s growth in the years ahead. In addition to outlining the city’s vision, goals, policies, actions and design guidelines, the plan also includes land-use maps that show the types and locations of land uses that would be considered in the city.

A staff report notes that a main focus of the OCP was to increase housing choice by facilitating more ground-oriented, infill housing. That resulted in some residents creating a Yes In New West coalition that advocated for the creation of more row houses, townhouses and carriage and laneway houses to provide more family-friendly housing options – as well as petitions from other residents who are opposed to some of the changes being proposed in their neighbourhoods.

“Based on feedback from the community and direction from council, staff developed an implementation strategy for the housing forms that received the highest level of support during consultation: laneway and carriage houses, and townhouse and row houses,” said the report.

Mayor Jonathan Cote expressed gratitude for the hard work and time staff put into the official community plan update process.

“I really think it has been a rewarding process. I am trying to think of another engagement process with the community that has had this level of discussion,” he said. “We had some real big housing challenges that we were hoping to address through this process. I think at this point we’ll keep an open mind until the end of the process, but I think a lot of great work and a lot of great community discussions have happened.”