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Big turnouts for Delta OCP open houses

The city’s planning department notes the current OCP, originally adopted in 1985, is no longer reflective of Delta and the pressures the community faces

Open houses and online information sessions hosted by the city last week in South Delta and North Delta saw large turnouts as residents wanted to find out more about proposed major changes to the Official Community Plan (OCP).

The open houses at the North Delta Recreation Centre, South Delta Recreation Centre as well as the Ladner Community Centre saw city staff on hand to explain the myriad of proposed zoning changes that council will consider for final adoption this June.

The North Delta Centre for the Arts will be the site of another open house on Thursday, March 14 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Mayor George Harvie, who was on hand at the open houses, told the Optimist he is pleased with the turnouts and the amount of interest and input, noting city staff have been doing a good job organizing the events and explaining the proposed changes.

“I’m really pleased we get to talk about a lot of issues and where we’re going in the next 20-to-30 years with the members of the community,” he said.

Noting the dialogue has been respectful and thoughtful, Harvie said among the concerns he has heard was that the timeframe to approve the new OCP is too quick, but Delta is responding to provincial requirements.

He also noted there has been much discussion on the issue of density, adding he personally is not in favour of the province’s new requirement allowing many more units on lots in single-family neighbuorhoods.

Harvie said he instead prefers to target high-density growth on the major corridors including Ladner Trunk Road, Scott Road and 56 Street.

The province is requiring municipalities to update their zoning bylaws by June 30, 2024, to permit small-scale, multi-unit housing on all lots currently zoned for detached single-family or duplex use.

All municipalities are also required to have updated housing needs reports, which Delta has already undertaken as the basis for the city’s Housing Action Plan, which has also already been approved by council with several action items planned or already initiated.

Housing needs assessments will become the basis for reviewing and updating each municipality’s OCP and zoning bylaws by Dec. 31, 2025.

The City of Delta, which last fall was given a mandated housing target by the province to add 3,607 new units within five years, is currently undertaking that initiative as well as part of the upcoming zoning change for single-family lots.

The planning department notes that to enable the city to meet the housing target, a series of measures including significant changes to the OCP are required.

The changes are focused mainly around increasing development opportunities in urban centres, allowing small-scale multi-unit housing as well as simplifying land use descriptions.

As far as the timeline, Coun. Dylan Kruger said, “We would have loved to have more time, but the reality is we are responding to the legislated changes and the housing target the province has put in place and they’ve been very clear we must adopt these changes. Our staff has done a really impressive job getting all these materials out in such a short amount of time. One of the biggest things is how do we effectively communicate all this when there is so much misinformation out there. If we were doing this on our own volition, we would be doing this so much different, but we have to respond to these legislated changes.”

A draft of the proposed new OCP will go out for public input in April prior to a public hearing.