Creation of ecological zoning made top priority for Trust Committee

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, May 16 2017

Creating a new kind of “ecological” park zoning for Gabriola is now on the top priorities list for the Gabriola Local Trust Committee.

This past week, with some projects moving onto the “completed” list, there was room for a new project to be prioritized.

Trustee Melanie Mamoser put forward the idea of creating an Ecological Zoning or P4 (Park 4, being as Gabriola has P2 (passive) and P3 (active) park zoning.)

During the recent discussions around the Church-Spruce Density Transfer (a.k.a. Potlatch Density Transfer) there was feedback from the public as well as the Gabriola Advisory Planning Commission that the donor lands Coats Regional Park and the 707 Community Park should be retained as an ecological area, rather than passive-use as the 707 is currently zoned.

As Mamoser said, it would also be possible - if the Regional District of Nanaimo wanted - to rezone the Coats Regional Park to P4 when/if the park is rezoned to a park designation.

Staff explained that there has not been much discussion or engagement with the RDN in the past regarding zoning of parks - the RDN has simply told the Trust what zoning would be appropriate for the park’s purpose.

If the LTC were to create a P4 zoning, it could consult with the RDN both during the creation of the zoning and when specific parks are created (assuming P4 zoning is created).

All within the spectrum of consulting with the community.

Mamoser asked if it would be good to have something in place sooner rather than later.

According to Ann Kjerulf, Regional Planning Manager for the Northern Trust Office, staff recently met with the RDN on the issue and asked what type of “comprehensive park planning could happen at the Gabriola level. 

“They’re going to start the regional park planning process in the fall; we’re hoping to have a conversation about community parks as well.”

Mamoser said given those timelines, “it would be good if the LTC were on the way to showing what ecological zoning would look like.”

She added that she’d also like to be “responsive in showing we are learning on bettering our land-use decisions and not just letting a project just sit there and not mean as much.”

Trustee Heather O’Sullivan said the other priority she was thinking of putting forward was to finally tackle a review of the DeCourcy and Mudge Island Official Community Plans.

“The DeCourcy OCP is hideously out of date, and has been long identified as a thing that is in need of a review. When we’ve been to Mudge and engaged with people on Mudge, they’ve identified dissatisfaction with their OCP being out of date. So one of those would be a potential project.”

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