Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about the Official Community Plan
What is an OCP?
An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a City bylaw that defines policies for land use and development. An OCP takes a long range view, in this case through to 2030, to ensure that the needs of current and new residents can be accommodated in that period. For instance, based on population projections (how many people will be born or move here), we learn about how many new homes will be needed. The OCP details what types of homes (apartment, townhouses, single family homes, etc.) are needed and provides policy direction on how, when and where those new homes will be located. The OCP, in addition to housing, addresses many other aspects of the City including environmental protection, economic development, transportation, infrastructure and land use.
All municipal policies, plans and regulations must be in alignment with the OCP Bylaw, so it is a powerful guide to City decision-making. An effective OCP provides clear direction but does not preclude change to the plan based on evolving circumstances or interpretation of policies by Council and staff. In this way, an OCP is often considered a “living document”. This OCP Review seeks to integrate or ‘hardwire’ sustainability into all decisions and create greater alignment of City policies, programs, and projects.
City Council, city staff, developers and professionals (architects, engineers, planners, landscape architects, etc.) use the OCP to understand what the community wants as it relates to the delivery of housing and other land uses (types, character), transportation services, infrastructure and amenities. They also use the OCP to understand which areas are suitable for development and which are not (environmentally sensitive areas, steep slopes, hazardous areas, etc.). The public can use the OCP to gain a better understanding of local issues and how they are planned to be addressed or what changes may happen in their neighbourhood.
Provincial legislation (Local Government Act) outlines the purpose, required content and discretionary content of an OCP. The purpose of an OCP, under this legislation, is a “statement of objectives and policies to guide decisions on planning and land use management”. Kelowna has a number of plans or guidelines in place that have a very detailed focus on specific issues in the community that may or may not be land use oriented. This is not uncommon for a City of our size. However, inclusion of all those other issues in an OCP creates an unwieldy document that is not necessarily focused on land use and development as intended in the legislation. In the case of Kelowna, there is enough Council and community support for these other plans in place today to stand on their own as separate policy documents and to create an OCP focused exclusively on land use planning and development.
An OCP Review involves significant public involvement from the beginning to the end so that goals and policies reflect community concerns and hopes for the future. The review process is open, transparent, and requires broad input from residents, elected officials, staff, and stakeholders. It is the City’s goal to engage residents of all ages and walks of life to participate in a wide number of activities over the life of the review.
The two phase process for this OCP review has been designed to allow the community to take the time needed to look forward to 2030 and explore and understand trends and drivers that will influence Kelowna’s future quality of life, economic vitality, and environmental health. The first step of the review is to develop policy wording and guidelines that include sustainability principles and reflect community goals and objectives. Phase I will be completed by October 2008. The second step commencing in November 2008 is to focus on how land use, development, transportation, and infrastructure patterns can be shaped to help achieve those goals and objectives. This OCP Review format will ensure that choices made in Phase II reflect thoughtful and strategic directions gained through public consultation in the Phase I.
The City of Kelowna is now reviewing its OCP, looking forward to 2030, to update policies to reflect current challenges related to climate change, growth, affordability concerns and planning for sustainability.
The Zoning Bylaw is a regulatory tool that is very specific about land use, density, building siting (where its located on a lot) and other issues such as landscaping and lot coverage requirement as it relates to a lot or site. The OCP is more strategic and often less prescriptive about specific sites. For instance, the OCP will say “this area will be a future growth area for high density housing” where the Zoning Bylaw will say that the building on that specific lot will be 12 storeys tall and cover 50% of the lot.
The Policy Review Matrix will allow staff, council, and the consulting team to cross reference relationships between sustainability goals and land use, development, & transportation by using the matrix. By thoroughly exploring these relationships we will assess the relevance of existing OCP policies and determine high value strategies for revisions and development of new policy.
Questions and comments about the OCP review can be directed to:
Policy & Planning
1435 Water Street
Kelowna, BC V1Y 1J4
Fax: 250 862-3320