Official Community Plans
(a) Add ecological goals and objectives to community OCPs, as permitted under the new provincial legislation.
(b) Most existing OCPs are overall visions for the future of an area, without any follow-through that would allow an intention to be fulfilled. In this sense, they are not 'plans'. This is an enormous weakness, and leads to the reality that the future is determined more by zoning bylaws and rezonings, not by the OCP.
Action : Each Goal and Objective in the OCP should be accompanied by a 3rd section called 'Action', with possible steps to be taken, listing the department responsible.
Rewrite development application forms to include mandatory attention to social and environmental features.
Change the publicity around rezonings so that they are written in plain English that anyone can understand, leaving out the legal and 'plannerese' language.
Regional planning was abolished by the Socred government in 1983, when a cabinet minister was upset that a friend had a golf course application overturned on a 33/32 vote. The NDP brought back growth management - regional planning by mutual consent - in 1995.
Regional planning has many creative tools which can help protect green space while encouraging attractive urban development.
Portland's Transferable Development Credits, a system designed to create compact growth patterns in existing urban areas in exchange for open land preservation. To develop beyond the base zoning restrictions in a "receiver area", a developer must buy credits from a sender landowner, compensating the sender for giving up development opportunities. A perpetual conservation easement is then placed over the sender's land prohibiting future subdivision or changes to the site.
Green Belts - Urban Containment Boundaries - Portland - San Jose - Seattle - and Saanich.
"Studies show that extending urban services - roads, sewers, water, schools - to new suburbs costs cities more than revenue gains from expansion."
Christian Science Monitor, April 17th 1996
Maryland's 'Smart Growth' plan :
(1) Shift development back to existing communities by directing state spending for roads, schools and sewers to cities, towns and more densely developed suburbs
(2) Preserve the state's rural legacy by spending $163 million over next 5 years to buy up 90,000 acres of farmland and environmentally sensitive areas
(3) Encourage recycling of abandoned and underused brown field industrial areas by streamlining pollution clean-up requirements
Prohibit new out-of-town shopping malls. Britain has tightened restrictions. Italy is discussing a 3-year moratorium. Germany limits new malls to the former east. France subjects all new food stores over 3,000 sq ft to government approval. Vermont has kept Walmart out by its zoning restrictions on the permitted size of out-of-town stores.
Island Trails The Trans-Canada Trail is a coast-to-coast-to-coast off-road trail which the organizers hope to launch in the year 2000. In Britain, 'Sustrans' has been awarded $120 million of lottery money to create an entire network of off-road pedestrian/cycling/riding trails throughout Britain. Here on the Island, we could picture a similar network.
Regional District Boundaries
Thinking more broadly, if we are ever to have proper watershed-based management of forests, fishing, rivers and agricultural land on the island, we need to adjust the boundaries of the existing regional districts to reflect natural watersheds. For instance :
CRD : Cut short just south of Port Renfrew, and create a new watershed-based region covering the area from Port Renfrew to just south of Bamfield, taking in the whole of the San Juan and Nitinat watersheds, with HQ at Port Renfrew.
Cowichan Valley RD: Remove the west coast section, from the west end of Cowichan Lake.
Nanaimo Regional District : Reduce the northern boundary just north of Lanzville
(New) Beaufort Range Regional District : Runs up the eastern coast from Nanoose Bay to north of Black Creek, bounded to the west by the Beaufort Range.
Redistribute Comox-Strathcona Regional District into
(a) Courtenay/Cumberland - part of the new Beaufort Range Regional District
(b) Gold River - Tahsis - Brooks Peninsula becomes new Nootka/Kyuquot Regional District
(c) Campbell River & Sayward become part of new Salmon Regional District.
(New) Salmon Regional District : Covers Strathcona, Campbell River, Salmon River.
(New) Nimpkish-Quatsino Regional District. (The old Mount Waddington Region, less the mainland area (added to the Central Coast Regional District along with Bute Inlet from the old Comox-Strathcona Region)
(New) Nootka-Kyuquot Regional District : from the hesquiat Peninsula to the Brooks Peninsula.
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District : move the southern boundary up to Bamfield.
(New) San Juan-Nitinat Regional District
'The Nature House', Sweden
Except for electric light, runs entirely on natural systems. The timber frame, built within a glass outer shell, is light, bright and spacious. The perimeter spaces are filled with green conservatories of exotic plants and sunspaces, while fruit, flowers and vegetables flourish in the glass roof garden. The sun's rays trapped by the glass shell give immediate warmth; a thick layer of pebbles under the house stores the heat, which is circulated by a fan. A wood-burning stove supplies back-up heating, if required. A water-less composting toilet deals with all human and other organic wastes, and a large tank set into the indoor terrace stores rainwater. Fresh air, drawn in through the rooftop garden fills the house with the sweet scent of flowers and plants.
(The Natural House Book', by David Pearson)
The need is urgent - most young people have given up all hope of ever owning a home. There are many methods - small homes (300 - 800 sq ft), cluster homes, self-build, growhomes, but builders and developers don't like building them because the earnings are less.
One solution might be affordability credits, similar to Portland's transferable development credits. For every 4th built unit selling for over $150,000 (eg), a builder must buy an affordability credit from someone who has built a unit selling for under $150,000. The credits will find their own market value ($5,000 ?), and provide a built-in market incentive to encourage affordable housing, and stimulating the market for low-cost units.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE
Age of the Universe : 15 billion years
Age of the Earth : 4.5 billion years
Age of earliest organisms : 2 billion years
Age of oldest mammals : 60 million years
Hunter-Gatherer Age : 3,000,000 years
Agricultural Age : 11,000 years
Industrial Age : 200 years
Post-Industrial Age : 15 years
The period 1990 - 2040 is critical for making the turnaround from a society based on oil, the extraction of natural resources and living off Earth's capital. Many past civilizations have blown it - North Africa used to be the granary of Europe; now it's mostly a desert. Ditto for Sumeria and the Garden of Babylon, which is now the Iran/Iraq desert.
We have some larger problems :
* Climate change - predictions for the Island include more extreme events (snowstorms, downpours, droughts), forest fires, insect and fungus invasions, warming rivers,
* Global fisheries crisis, affecting the salmon
* Health crisis from accumulation of toxic chemicals - cancers, chemical stress syndrome, potential collapse of antibiotics through overuse and abuse
* Fall down in forest production due to overcutting
* Coming world food crisis
Put together, we face a larger crisis of growth and direction.
Which way are we headed as we enter the 21st century ? Do we want to ride the familiar waves of the 20th century - or do we need to change direction, and chart a new path towards ecological sustainability and community stability ? If we change direction, what will it mean ?
Traditional opportunities will continue to develop (Chemainus Theatre, Ladysmith Waterfront, new Victoria Arena). The wave of change is the overall vision : innovative opportunities are the molecules that make up the wave.
Car Share co-ops
True-cost pricing for cars and parking
Island Authority, able to raise $$$ eg for $1 billion railway system
New roads -
Cowichan Lake to Port Renfrew
Cowichan Lake to Port Alberni and Bamfield
Port Alberni to Lake Comox and Courtenay
Gold River to Tahsis
Gold River to Woss
Tahsis to Zeballos
Zeballos to Nimpkish
Tahsis to Woss
Organic farming revolution
Hobby farms sit empty, while farmers complain they can't afford to farm. Meanwhile, there's a shortage of locally grown organic food, and the brown box programs in Victoria are all oversubscribed with huge waiting lists. The brown box program can revive the small organic family farm, and bring new vitality to the countryside.
The solar revolution is just around the corner. Solar shingles attached directly to roofs, with flywheel storage. Windmills, ground-source heat, solar roads.
New approaches to sewage - wetlands, backyard wetlands, solar aquatics, hydroxyl
Community forests control
Community Forestry Act, written by Cheri Burda and Michael M'Gonigle, would give local communities the ability to control their own local forest licenses using ecological forestry principles, according to their own long-term needs.
Ecologically sustainable economic development
Eco-industrial parks, practising zero-emissions industrial ecology
Residential-industrial parks (Courtenay), where residents can live about their workshops.
New self-contained towns of 10,000 people, planned on ecological and compact traditional neighbourhood development lines, with relatively high density (20 units/acre), fibre optics and their own local economies - may be preferable to the sprawl of subdivisions around existing communities.
In Chinese, the word for 'crisis' is 'wei-chi', where 'wei' means 'danger' and 'chi' means 'opportunity'. They cannot say the word 'crisis' without understanding 'danger-opportunity' in their minds. That is our reality today.
395 Conway Rd, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3X1, Canada
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304