Planning for Our Future

As the Comprehensive Community Planning Project (CCPP) moves towards completion, the next, and perhaps the most important, milestone is the completion of the District?s new zoning bylaw. The upcoming bylaw is referred to as new because it is replacing the extremely outdated Land Use Bylaw No. 12, which was first adopted in 1982 and has been adjusted several times since then. This new bylaw is important because it is the tool that governs all land use within our municipality. While our Official Community Plan (OCP) acts a broad based guide for development in Tumbler Ridge, it is the Zoning Bylaw that spells out the regulations that must be met in order to follow that guide.

How does the Zoning Bylaw accomplsih this? In the District of Tumbler Ridge, as with most other Canadian communities, land is classified and mapped into different zones through a zoning bylaw. Each zone corresponds to a set of permitted uses that identify what kinds of activity are allowed within a certain area. Zones are arranged to ensure that these uses are compatible for the comfort and safety of the public. An obvious example is that you do not want to locate a cement plant beside a residential neighborhood because of the noise, dust and other nuisances it will create for its neighbours. The strategic placement of zones can also increase the convenience of everyday tasks for people, while reducing wear and tear on public infrastructure. Most of Tumbler Ridge?s retail services and amenities are grouped together in the downtown core, allowing people to make one trip for most of their household purchases. This stands in stark contrast to other communities where you have to drive to a variety of locations before your shopping is finished.

Going one step further beyond land use classification, a zoning bylaw also contains provisions that regulate the use, size, height, density and location of buildings within each zone. Once again, the primary purpose of these provisions is to ensure that the comfort and safety of all citizens remains intact, while the financial well being of the municipality is maintained. Can you imagine a two-story, 3000 sq. ft. home sandwiched in between two single story 1200 sq. ft. houses? A properly constructed bylaw helps to prevent such occurrences from taking place.

It would be an understatement to say that Tumbler Ridge has changed significantly since the first Land Use Bylaw was created in 1982. We are a growing community with a different population profile that has its own unique set of needs and desires. It is with this in mind that the District undertook the work needed to create a new Zoning Bylaw. There were many sources of information to draw from as the work began. Over the past several years the general public has brought a variety of issues forward in one way or another. These issues stemmed from their experiences understanding and/or adhering to the bylaw. With each one that arose, an expanding list of comments and concerns was recorded, eventually forming the basis for much of the discussion that has been taking place. Changes in provincial legislation also required a great deal of revisions to be made for the new Zoning Bylaw as there were many references to outdated laws in the first Land Use Bylaw. Mayor and Council also brought forward issues that they felt needed to be addressed, based on their objectives and the conversations that they?ve had with various members of the general public. The interim result has been the identification of a series of issues that the new zoning bylaw will attempt to address.

These include:

Seniors, special needs and affordable housing;

Increasing the volume and variety of residential housing;

Temporary accommodations;

Parking (residential/commercial);

Home-based business, and;

Manufactured housing.

Although there are many more adjustments that have been proposed, these subjects represent the key issues that will be addressed by the new zoning bylaw. The second part of this article will talk about some of the specific solutions that have been proposed for the new bylaw in order to address the key issues. We will also be posting a summary of these proposed solutions online at www.TumblerRidge.ca by November 3rd. On the same page we will be including a feedback form that you can fill out and email to us to share your thoughts and concerns. In addition, a discussion forum will be placed on www.TumblerRidge.ca/forum/ in the Residents section, enabling you to post your comments and converse with other members of the community about the proposed bylaw. For those of you who prefer a hard copy of the written word, please keep your eye out for a newsletter to be delivered to your door that will provide the same information. In the meantime, please direct any questions you have to Ray Proulx ? Economic Development Officer at 242-4242 ext.225 or edo@dtr.ca.