A 145 year old District Municipality we were predominantly planned on thinking that is outdated. Hence sprawl, with commerce. schools and residences on the floodplain, industrial pollution and other decisions made before modern best practices. We are 195.54 square km which means a lot of services, roads, sewer, water, policing, fire-protection etc. to maintain, which costs property taxes.
We know more than we did 145 years ago, and even 10 years ago, when our current Official Community Plan (OCP), was being developed with a lot of input from resident experts.
It concentrates new residential growth to Urban Containment Boundaries, (UCB), that are close to the core town centers, and costing less to build and maintain.
Adopted in 2011, at the last minute, without notice of motion to the public, Council voted to roll what was demarcated for future growth (when and if needed) into the UCB. In hindsight, that was problematic.
It has spurred a number of challenges from the community, particularly along the Maple Bay Corridor, one area highly valued for its bucolic rural feel. Concern about traffic, lake health, the endangered Garry Oak ecosystem and worries about loss of sense of place have come forward. Good questions that are hard to answer, about why we would be zoning for denser development so far from the core, when what is needed most is more affordable housing that is innovative and walk able to the services people need continue to be brought forward. And the need and desire for protection of green spaces and the priceless ecological services they provide.
We have significant work to do to build a resilient community. Soaring property values have reduced rental opportunities and made it harder for locals to purchase homes, and the opioid and homelessness crisis have rocked us to our core.
Though admittedly, Council did a lot this term to address affordability. by zoning for new dwellings -- 2400 homes in the UCB can now have a legal suite -- a potential 2400 mortgage helpers and affordable housing options, as well as over 2000 additional units, of conventional homes, smaller homes, town-homes, apartments and supportive housing, many have protested that too much of that housing is slated to be built too far out of town to be truly sustainable. Those kinds of decisions must stop.
The fires on Maple Mountain and at Nanaimo Lakes this summer were a wake-up call for the work we need to do to adapt to climate change.
We need to protect what we can and adapt where we can, and part of that is growing smart. We need to know what kind of growth we can carry and where ecosystems can handle growth.
With your help the next Council will update the Official Community Plan and zoning by-laws
Let us work together to make the OCP as forward-thinking, state of the art, inclusive and culturally sensitive as we can.
Building a good plan is all about relationships.
As your Councillor my work for the last seven years has gone beyond roads, sewers and waste. I have worked with many local organizations on the front lines of pressing social issues, and through reconciliation work, have built relationships with First Nations.
I offer experience, commitment stability and vision.
I am asking for your support to help me to continue building these bridges, these relationships and our community.
We need all hands on deck, rowing our oars in the same direction -- together.
Please vote for Kate Marsh, on October 20th.