The City of Campbell River will take a look at its Sustainable Official Community Plan and ensure it meets the community’s housing needs before considering an expansion of its boundaries. Mirror File Photo

Campbell River city council to explore expansion of city boundaries

After application to incorporate three lots south of Jubilee, city will review its housing needs

The City of Campbell River will undertake an extensive review of its Sustainable Official Community Plan (SOCP) to establish whether or not it needs to expand its Urban Containment Boundaries to accomodate its housing needs.

The decision was spurred by an application by Parkway Properties and E. Maxwell to have the city expand its southern Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) and incorporate three properties south of Jubilee Parkway. That application looked to get a change to the city’s SOCP, but city staff thought it would be better to review the city’s overall housing needs before considering an expansion of its boundaries.

To expand the UCB, the staff report says, “would signal a change in a longstanding policy to focus housing growth within the defined urbanized area of the city,” and therefore should be considered very carefully to avoid possible infrastructure complications.

“The city’s current transportation and infrastructure systems have all been designed based on the assumption that urban growth will be contained within the designated area for the foreseeable future,” the report reads. “If and when a new direction is established, infrastructure and other plans will need to be recalibrated accordingly, and therefore it is financially and socially responsible to understand all the options and implications before amending the OCP – the most fundamental of all the city’s plans.”

In terms of this particular application, for example, the report says that opening the area south of Jubilee for housing growth would require “extending the already-elongated water and sanitary services, and dealing with stormwater management. Preliminary input from the city’s engineering functions highlight concerns about the capacity and design of the transportation, water and sanitary networks required to accommodate a new area of housing growth south of Jubilee Parkway. These considerations will apply wherever any expansions of the UCB are proposed, but all areas are not equal in this regard, which is why a comprehensive review of infrastructure and servicing implications is warranted.”

And so, for the next 10 months or so, city staff will analyze the housing delivery model of the city, consider the market demands as well as consider all areas in which the UCB could potentially be adjusted, and the pros and cons of doing so.

Council agreed with staff and deferred the decision on this particular application until that SOCP review has been “largely completed,” but wanted to issue some direction to staff in terms of the scope of the review, as well.

Coun. Claire Moglove said she thinks this review “is one of the most important issues council will face this term,” saying it “changes everything for the city,” but asked for clarification on the scope of the process. She wanted, in particular, a review of the types of housing that can be approved and constructed under certain zoning restrictions, such as increasing allowances for carriage homes or lots that could accommodate tiny homes.

City planner Chris Osborne responded that the proposed review will primarily look at the specific zones where housing of any kind should be allowed to be constructed, “but of course, part of that discussion, certainly, is the discussion of the type of housing development that goes in different areas,” Osborne said. “We could go a great deal of the way down this road, but obviously there are timing and resource implications attached to that. The process we’ve set out is one in which we would look largely at the areas which new housing could go in, but some consideration of the mix and typology could go further.”

Coun. Cornfield agrees that the review has to be broad and city-wide, not just focused on whether or not to expand south but doesn’t think it should get bogged down by exploring more types of housing being allowed.

“I think this will evolve as it moves forward,” Cornfield said. “Let’s not be too prescriptive and say, well, it should involve carriage houses and tiny home lots and stuff. That’s a zoning bylaw thing and could maybe come about as a result of the review, but let’s get the first part done.”

Council will be updated as this process unfolds in 2019.

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