Today’s Poll

Nelson City Council renews its vision with updated community plan

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
May 23rd, 2013

Nelson City Council adopted a new edition of its Official Community Plan (OCP) at its meeting on May 6. The city has been working on an update to the 2008 version for a couple of years. The 2013 edition is long (180 pages), detailed, and reader-friendly.

The OCP is the city’s core planning document. As such, it should be the first stop for citizens who have questions, complaints, or suggestions about development in the city.  But it is not a legal or regulatory document, and so no one—neither the public nor the city—is obliged to follow it.

The plan provides broad objectives and detailed policies in the following areas:

Land use and neighbourhoods

This section contains detailed visions for land use in individual neighbourhoods, with separate sections for Rosemont, Uphill, Fairview, Gyro, Waterfront, and Downtown.

It lays out guidelines for residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional development. It addresses questions of what land will be used for those purposes and under what conditions.

Sustainable development

The OCP covers land use, transportation, buildings, energy supply and solid waste in terms of sustainability. One of its many stated objectives is for the city to “encourage the inception and growth of a local green energy economy through partnerships, education, incentives, legislation, and conservation.”


This section is about housing supply, safety standards, design, and affordability. One of the many stated objectives is to “provide a full range of housing types and tenures for current and future residents of all incomes, ages, lifestyles and abilities.”

Healthy living and social wellbeing

Health care, food security, childcare, families, youth, disabilities, and aging are covered in this section. One objective is to “determine an appropriate level of local government involvement in addressing social issues, recognizing the City’s limited financial resources and to hold senior levels of government responsible to provide services that they are responsible for.”


This section is broken down by neighbourhood, and is about roads, transit, walking, and cycling. One of its objectives reads: “To foster the development of facilities that enable safe and convenient cycling and pedestrian travel.”


Water, solid waste, sewage, and hydro are covered in this section. “To reduce the volume of solid waste collected by the City while continuing to build on the success of the recycling program as supported by the RDCK Resource Recovery Plan,” is one of the many objectives of this section.


Culture includes “heritage, the arts, and the people, businesses, institutions and organizations that participate in and support them.” One of the objectives: “To integrate the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector with other sectors to enrich and build a stronger community.”

Parks and recreation

This section discusses each of the major parks in Nelson and includes this among many objectives: “To create focal points and urban plazas throughout the Downtown and Waterfront neighbourhoods to serve as the “heart” of these neighbourhoods, and as guided by the Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan.

Natural environment and hazardous conditions

This is about protection and restoration of the natural environment and the mitigation of certain conditions such as wildfire risk and steep terrain. For example: “To reduce the risk of wildfire through awareness, prevention, regulation, and other mitigation measures.”

Development permits

“The Development Permit system provides the local government with the process and guidelines to influence the form and character of intensive residential, multi-unit residential, commercial, and industrial development beyond the provisions of the Zoning and Subdivision Bylaws.”

This section divides the city into three development permit areas for this purpose, and discusses the details of each.


In addition to detailed discussions of all of the above areas, the OCP contains policies related to all them as well as a variety of illustrations and maps. 

The 2013 OCP includes a number of the city’s planning documents that were developed since the 2008 version came into effect, including:

  • The Path to 2040 Sustainability Strategy, 2010
  • The Active Transportation Plan, 2010
  • The City of Nelson Housing Strategy, 2010
  • The Sustainable Waterfront & Downtown Master Plan, 2011
  • The Low Carbon Path – Community Energy and Emissions
  • Action Plan, 2011
  • The Heritage Register Update, 2011
  • The Water Master Plan, 2007
  • The Sewer Master Plan, 2010

Categories: Politics

Other News Stories