Local Government Act
Bulletin No.: G.2.0.0Date: October 2000
OCP Purpose and Content
The new Local Government Act provisions regarding the purpose and content of
official community plans (OCPs) reflect the principles established in
1997 to guide the Municipal Act Reform process. In particular,
these changes provide:
- broader powers for
local government regarding land use planning;
- increased flexibility
for a local government to respond to the particular planning and
land use management issues and circumstances of the affected
- a more appropriate
balance between local government authority, public
accountability and enhanced provincial interests in the development
of official community plans (OCPs).
amendments clarify the purpose of OCPs and enhance local governments'
ability to develop OCPs that address community-specific planning needs
within the context of provincial planning and land use management interests.
Most of the amendments become effective January 1, 2001, but the repeal of the content
provisions (sections 877 and 878) will not become effective until
provincial policy guidelines are in place.
- Section 873 of the Local Government Act clarifies that municipalities may only
exercise Part 26 powers within municipal boundaries and regional
districts may only use these powers within rural areas of regional
district boundaries. This new provision limits the general authority
(in sections 517(2) and 796(2)) for a local government to provide
services outside its boundaries.
- Section 875 sets out the
purpose of an OCP, which is to:
- provide a statement of objectives and
policies to guide planning and land use management decisions within the
area covered by the plan; and,
- work towards the regional growth strategies
purpose and goals (section 849), to the extent that the OCP deals with
- Section 876 requires that
an OCP be included in the adopting bylaw as a schedule and that it
designate the area covered by the plan. This section also requires
that the local government consider any applicable provincial policy
guidelines (under section 870) in development of the OCP.
- Provisions that prescribe
mandatory content and establish authority for additional content
(sections 877 and 878) are repealed because the provincial interests
identified in these provisions can be more adequately expressed in
the form of the guidelines described above. The repeals, however,
will not take effect until guidelines have been established (see
Bulletin Number G.2.2.0
- OCP Provincial Policy Guidelines). At the time of these repeals,
the new section 877 (1) will be brought into force to provide
authority for an OCP to contain any statements and material the
local government considers appropriate. Sub-section (3) of that
section continues the existing requirement that any statements
regarding matters that are not within that local government's
jurisdiction to regulate be restricted to a description of the
broad objectives of that local government.
- Section 849 sets out the purpose and goals of regional growth strategies.
- Section 866 provides a requirement for a regional context statement in some OCPs.
- Section 876 provides
authority to adopt an OCP and includes a requirement to consider any
applicable provincial policy guidelines (see Bulletin Number
G.2.2.0 - Provincial Policy Guidelines).
- Section 879 sets out OCP consultation requirements (see Bulletin Number
G.2.1.0 - OCP Process and Consultation).
- Section 882 identifies additional procedural requirements related to OCPs (see Bulletin
Number G.2.1.0 - OCP Process and Consultation).
- Division 4 of Part 24 requires public hearings for some OCPs and sets out the
procedural requirements in relation to these (see Bulletin Number
G.4.0.0 - Public Hearing Procedures).
- Given the new authority
to consider other land use planning and social, economic,
environmental planning and policies when adopting an OCP, a local
government initiating the development or amendment of an OCP may
want to assess what other planning and policies within their own
jurisdiction, or other affected jurisdictions, might usefully be
- It is important that a
local government that includes a number of planning and land use
bylaws under one comprehensive bylaw, as authorized by section
259.1, keep the OCP provisions separate from the regulatory
provisions. For this reason, local governments are required to adopt
an OCP as a schedule to the bylaw. This is particularly important
for regional district OCPs, because these have to be submitted to
the Minister of Municipal Affairs for approval, while the remainder
of a regional district comprehensive bylaw does not require such
approval. In addition, distinguishing OCP provisions from land use
regulation provides clearer guidance to subdivision approving
officers and building inspectors who must consider an OCP
differently than a regulatory bylaw.
There are no transitional provisions relating to these amendments. This
means that for all new bylaws and amendments or repeals to existing
bylaws, any new procedural requirements must be followed as soon as
the applicable provision is brought into force. For example, after
January 1, 2001 any OCP bylaw amendments will need to incorporate the
OCP as a schedule to the bylaw. This is the case even for bylaws that
are in process (i.e. between 1st reading and adoption) at the time the
provisions come into force so, for example, if a bylaw is at second
reading on January 1, 2001, and the OCP is not included as a schedule to
the bylaw, then the bylaw must be changed to comply with this
requirement before it is adopted.
Local Government Act References:
Primary Sections: Section 875, 876, 877
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