Project to Improve Planning and Development Gets Board Endorsement

Tags:  2023 | News Release
Date Released: July 27, 2023

Last year, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) made major changes to one of the primary planning and development bylaws in the region. This bylaw had not been changed for over 30 years! Following this work, the SCRD has kicked off major projects to further improve planning and development services on the Sunshine Coast.

At the July 27 Board meeting, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) received support from the Board of Directors to proceed with the recommendations presented in a report to improve the SCRD’s current development approval processes (DAPs).

In August of 2021, the SCRD secured grant funding from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) to support an end-to-end review of its existing DAPs. The SCRD subsequently engaged KPMG LLP in January of 2023 to review its DAPs and to provide validated recommendations for key process improvements. These recommendations were based on a review of internal procedures, bylaws, technology, engagement with the board of directors, and internal and external stakeholder interviews including with other local governments and representatives from the development industry.

“While the development approval process plays an important role in ensuring developments are healthy and safe, the need to make the process more effective, efficient and responsive to community needs was a common theme among stakeholders,” says Ian Hall, General Manager of Planning and Development.

The findings showed that SCRD processes, policies and bylaws related to development approvals that served well for the times they were created have come to a point in the asset management life cycle where a foundational overhaul is required to meet today’s needs.

KPMG worked with SCRD staff to refine and validate the findings into a focused, prioritized list of ten recommendations that take into consideration level of effort, value, and time requirement for implementation. These recommendations were further broken down into 30 achievable actions that will begin in late 2023 and be completed by mid-2025.

“The Board is pleased to endorse opportunities to help build thriving and resilient sunshine Coast communities,” says Leonard Lee, SCRD Board Chair. “We would like to thank staff and our project contributors for the significant time and energy they have dedicated to this review process.”

The DAP review fits with other major projects underway to renew land use planning on the Sunshine Coast.

First, SCRD has just initiated renewal of Official Community Plans (OCPs) for rural areas. OCPs describe the long-term vision of communities to guide future land use in the region. The SCRD has seven OCPs that range from five to 28 years old, which all require updates to meet current Provincial requirements and best practices. As the review continues, the SCRD will engage with communities in the region on the plans.

Second, a Board Policy on reviewing OCP Amendment applications is also in development. This policy is designed to be a transparency tool, with the goal of making visible the elements of applications to provide better information for the community review and decision-making process. The SCRD Board has directed this work and a follow up report is expected to the Board later this year.

And third, a Regional Growth Baseline study was completed earlier this year in partnership with District of Sechelt, Town of Gibsons and shishalh Nation. The study compiles and shares information about historical, current and forecasted regional growth, consider current and future needs such as shared goals, objectives, values, servicing levels, and constraints on the land. This information can inform future regional growth discussion, OCP renewal, and other policy and bylaw updates.

For more information on the DAP review project and others, visit letstalk/planning.