LETTER: Council to consider form-based zoning

The OCP allows flexibility to accommodate specific circumstances

Dear Editor:

Recently, you published a letter whose author questioned the need for an Official Community Plan amendment and re-zoning application for the iCasa development at Banks Crescent. Why is it required if, as the developer claims, the project complies with the OCP?

Good question! So off to city hall I went to find out.

The OCP guides the district’s decision making with respect to community planning and land management but is not a regulatory document. It allows flexibility to accommodate specific circumstances.

What does the OCP say with regards to the iCasa project?

The development area is called Shaughnessy Springs. Chapter 16.0 of the OCP called “Lower Town Strategic Plan” is dedicated to the 90-hectare Lowertown area including the 14.5 hectares targeted for the iCasa development.

This parcel is earmarked for medium density residential development, 23 to 60 units per hectare. Council has the flexibility to approve higher density development if the developer provides extra infrastructure and services that also benefit the public. This is called density bonusing. Public recreation assets or road improvements are examples.

A project such as iCasa may be considered for approval without revising OCP policy or guidelines. However, the OCP still requires an amendment as it serves as a register for all rezonings. The OCP was last amended on March 27, 2017 when 2810 Landry Crescent was rezoned to Low Density Residential.

What kind of re-zoning would the district have to consider for the iCasa development?

The answer is quite interesting. Shaughnessey Springs is within the urban growth area. It is currently zoned agricultural but designated for medium residential development with higher density possible at council’s discretion. Rezoning the land is straight forward.

However, council intends to take it a step further and consider “form based” zoning. Form-based zoning focuses on how the development will look and not what its specific use will be. This approach gives council more control over a specific type of development. This is why the developer is submitting artistic renderings as part of their application.

There is one more that I found out: chapter 5.2.3 of the OCP discusses the importance of various industry sectors to Summerland. Health Care and Social Assistance is the number one industry sector in the district, outpacing both construction and retail.

Perhaps iCasa is a good fit after all.

Henry Sielmann

CSI Summerland (Citizens Supporting iCasa)