The new zoning bylaw will rezone every property in the City!!

Ron Bolin: Feb. 17, 2011

While I have been blissfully contemplating the effects of the possible upzonings in the “Corridor” areas of the new rezoning bylaw, I was brought to a sobering halt when, in response to a question put to the planners about which parcels would see zoning changes as a result of the new bylaw, I received the following response:  “the new zoning bylaw will rezone every property in the City if adopted.” (emphasis his).

Upon reflection he is, of course, correct.  While looking at the trees, I have overlooked the forest.  While most of the proposed changes will not impact land use categories ( by changing the major type of land use (though there are some)), the intensity of use or possible lot size changes which may impact our urban density are to be found virtually everywhere and the number of zones has been reduced.  Everyone should be aware of the changes to their property rights and those of their neighbours which would be brought about by accepting these new zoning definitions.  These changes have been rewritten in an attempt to better implement the Official Community Plan (OCP) which we have adopted as a vision for Nanaimo’s future development.  If the congruence between the plan and the zoning can be improved we should find less time taken up in these matters by our planners and our Council, leaving them more time to innovate and improve.

A Map showing existing zoning classes (colours) with proposed zoning labels and black boundaries can be found here.

For myself, I find I am in general agreement with the objectives of the OCP (Official Community Plan), though I have to add that I am still sore about the movement of the Urban Containment Boundary to the City’s perimeter to accommodate the Cable Bay/Oceanside resort which, after so much civic expense has done next to nothing on the ground to justify a $60,000,000 price tag.  But I digress.

Given the current status of the OCP, I concur generally with the planners in their intentions, but find myself concerned that we do not seem to have a very good handle on the area where the rubber hits the road.  How many more potential housing or commercial or industrial units does the new plan create over and above those now permitted?  How many more potential lots in the various classifications are created?  How does the plan affect the potential for increasing density which is called for in the OCP?  What problems can be expected in implementing the plan when intentions meet implementation?  Does the entire community derive benefits from these changes or are they limited to a few.

I grant that it is impossible to give definitive answers to these questions as we don’t have a very good grasp of where the world is taking us these days, but the new potentials can and should be identified before the new Zoning Bylaw changes is adopted by Council.  All Nanaimo property owners need to understand what could happen to their property as a result of these changes, many, if not most, of which, I anticipate will be positive.

Take a look.  Let me know if my optimism is naïve.  What will happen to your property? Let us know what you think.