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Castlegar's new community plan moving forward

The next stage is a public hearing
The City of Castlegar is updating its Official Community Plan.

Castlegar City Council has passed the first two readings of a new Official Community Plan (OCP) and accompanying bylaws, triggering the next step to adoption -- a public hearing.

OCPs are intended to reflect the long-term vision of a community. They are a statement of objectives and policies that guide decisions on municipal planning and land use management.

The resolutions came before council June 3 after almost two years of consultations and planning.

Community engagement included workbooks, coffee shop pop-ups, open houses, and events co-hosted with community partners. The city received over 614 completed workbooks, hosted 20 engagement events, and had over 800 participants during the first two engagement phases. 

From the themes that emerged during community feedback, the city developed five key priorities:

• Focus growth in key nodes,

• Protect and restore the city's ecosystems,

• Create a dynamic Columbia Avenue corridor,

• Diversify the city's neighbourhoods, 

• Nurture an active city.


Some changes from the previous OCP include updated housing bylaws that allow for more housing options and align with new provincial legislation.

One of B.C.'s new laws allows up to four units on every fully serviced residential lot greater than 280 square metres. This is expected to increase housing density in many neighbourhoods.

The new OCP allows for accessory dwelling units, conversion of single-detached dwellings to two-or-three-unit dwellings, encourages development of vacant lots, mixed-use buildings in the Columbia Avenue Corridor, redevelopment of existing buildings into multi-unit dwellings and greenfield development. 

In addition, setback requirements have been reduced and height allowances increased to accommodate diverse housing types. Parking space requirements for multi-family units have been reduced.

The plan focuses 75 per cent of future residential growth within existing areas and 25 per cent on vacant lands.

The new provincial rules also require cities to report progress on housing actions annually and update their OCP every five years in alignment with its most recent Housing Needs Report.

Natural and hazard area

The plan creates a new natural and hazard designation for certain areas of the city. These were identified through GIS analysis of sensitive ecosystems, steep slopes, flood-prone areas, wildfire risk areas and riparian areas.

A neighbourhood plan will be required prior to development of these areas which addresses constraints and undertakes a financial costs analysis as well as identifies impacts over the short and long-term to service these areas. 

Commercial zones

Updates in commercial zones include specifications for drive-thrus, portable vendor services and vehicle fuel sales.

Parking space requirements have been reduced for mixed-use developments and some commercial uses. A parking reserve fund is being created that will allow for cash-in-lieu to be collected for the creation of centralized public parking facilities.

Small scale neighbourhood commercial uses and live-work units are also allowed in some areas.

The entire plan can be found on the city's website at


Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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