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The OCP can change your life.

The Official Community Plan, or "OCP", is the foundational document for any municipality. Once a municipality has adopted an OCP, all bylaws and works undertaken by the municipality must conform to the plan. You could think of it as the "Master Bylaw".

Where an OCP can affect residents most dramatically is zoning. The OCP governs our municipality's residential and commercial development, and everything in between. And that is how it can change your life.

Take a look at Langford, take a look at Colwood. Not very long ago, these places were not unlike North Saanich: farmland and forest. Think about what that kind of rampant development – commercial and residential – would do both to your day-to-day existence and to the future of your hometown. Take a walk through Sidney.

Or ask yourself, how will you get through the McTavish/East Saanich intersection once they throw up a few hundred housing units on the corner? How about a strip mall across the street?

And that’s what makes the OCP important: At best, it protects. But, far more often, land use policy moves toward destruction of the status quo, diminishing the very qualities that made a place attractive in the first place.

So, what determines whether an OCP stands for pillage or preservation? Frequently, much of that difference comes in the form of an interested, involved and active citizenry. That starts with a corps of residents prepared to express themselves to Municipal Hall.

Essentially, what we have here is a very basic question: love it or lose it? Conservation or exploitation? The choice is being made by council in the coming months, and the suggestions the Vancouver-based consultants have floated so far are the sorts of things developers dream of.

To learn about the Urban Containment Boundary and what it would mean for North Saanich, click here.

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