FAQs

1. What is a local area plan?
2. How is the LAP related to the Comox Valley regional growth strategy, official community plan and zoning bylaw?
3. What are settlement nodes and what does it mean that Saratoga Miracle Beach has been identified as one?
4. How does the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP affect properties?
5. What is the history of the development of the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP?
6. What are the highlights of the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP?
7. What are the objectives of the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP?
8. How will the proposed land use designations affect property taxes?
9. What are the next steps for the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP?
10. How can I provide comments and suggestion?

1. What is a local area plan?
A local area plan (LAP) contains policies to guide the future of a community. The LAP embodies residents’ visions for their community, technical studies results and sound planning principles.

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2. How is the LAP related to the Comox Valley regional growth strategy, official community plan and zoning bylaw?
They are all bylaws in a hierarchical relationship. The regional growth strategy (RGS) is a broad scale plan for the whole Comox Valley regional district planning area, including the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland and the three electoral areas. Adopted in 2011, the RGS guides the growth for the entire region for 20 years.

The rural Comox Valley official community plan (OCP) needs to be consistent with the RGS, and it has policies for the three electoral areas. The current OCP was adopted in 2014 and is intended to contain three LAPs: Mount Washington integrated resort community plan, Union Bay LAP and the Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP. These three areas were identified as settlement nodes.

In addition, the OCP and LAPs contain development permit area guidelines, which provide conditions for specific form of development. For the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP, there is a proposed form and character development permit. The answer to question 6 contains more information on this development permit area.

The zoning bylaw contains regulations for individual lots. Every lot is zoned, and different zones have distinct development rights pertaining to permitted uses, lot line setbacks, density and subdivision standards. The latest zoning bylaw was adopted in 2005, and is currently undergoing a comprehensive review that is expected to be completed by 2017. That is a separate initiative to this LAP.

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3. What are settlement nodes and what does it mean that Saratoga Miracle Beach has been identified as one?
The RGS identifies Saratoga Miracle Beach as one of the three settlement nodes in the electoral areas, and states that each settlement node needs a LAP for growth management. Each settlement node shall accommodate growth through a balance of new development, intensification and improvements to public infrastructure. For this community, growth would be largely geared toward coastal tourism and residential housing.

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4. How does the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP affect properties?
The LAP is a roadmap for the community’s future. If a property owner wishes to change the density or land uses on the lot by rezoning, the proposal must be consistent with the LAP, which in-turn is consistent with the OCP and RGS. Over time, development rights included in the new LAP enable. 

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5. What is the history of the development of the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP?

Here is a brief timeline:

2014 3 open houses during the OCP review
January - February 2015 Meetings with Watutco Water user group and Saratoga and Miracle Beach Residents' Association (SAMBRA)
April 30, 2015 First LAP open house at Oyster RiverFire Hall to discuss LAP priorities

From the April 30, 2015, open house, the most common comments were:

  • multiple residents supported backyard chickens, provided that the number and cleanliness are regulated; and several residents supported the current bylaw on burning restrictions and did not support a gateway icon.

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6. What are the highlights of the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP?
The attached map 1 shows the land use designations of the plan. Overall, the plan is a low-growth plan to ensure sufficient water capacity. The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) has recently completed two studies to explore the capacity of the Black Creek / Oyster Bay water service and to determine the health of the private septic systems in the community. Phase 2 of hydrological assessment of the local water service area will identify additional capacity of water for current and future projected needs.

  • The core development area (outlined with a purple dash line) enables a walkable, compact community with a mix of residential, mixed medium density residential, commercial and employment land uses, fully serviced with public water and wastewater treatment services.
  • The tourist commercial designation retains current tourist commercial operations.
  • The proposed mixed medium density residential / commercial provides expansion opportunity and enable duplexes, triplexes, vacation rentals and small-scale commercial uses, such as corner stores and cafes. Screening between lots that remain residential and lots rezoned with new density and uses is provided by way of a form and character development permit. The objectives of this development permit include ensuring neighbourhood compatibility, implementing screening and protecting views of the ocean.
  • No changes are proposed to existing residential neighbourhoods. Country residential designation is for rural lots with private wells and onsite septic systems. The rural residential designation is for areas with year round water due to riverine and estuarine features, and as such, growth is limited.
  • The employment lands designation is for highway commercial and light industrial uses.

Please note that land use designations are different from zones, and the lot zoning will not change with this plan. Existing uses and density will remain. If a property owner wishes to rezone a lot to allow for a future use, that proposal must be consistent with the Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP land use designation. 

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7. What are the objectives of the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP?
The draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP contains the following objectives:

Social and economic

  • Maintain and protect existing rural community character.
  • Support compact growth of area with seaside tourist commercial.
  • Retain existing service centres for community use.
  • Provide for affordable housing options.
  • Clarify community priorities and amenities.
  • Develop a land use map to guide future land use decisions.

Environmental

  • Ensure development proposals consider aquifer and water capacity.
  • Clarify future water and sewer servicing.
  • Consider climate change adaptation strategies with future development.
  • Enhance and protect existing network of parks and greenways corridors.

Continue engineering studies phase 2 to identify additional capacity for the Black Creek / Oyster Bay water service.

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8. How will the proposed land use designations affect property taxes?
The draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP does not have a direct impact on property tax. Property taxes are dependent on the assessed value determined by BC Assessment and the tax rate set by the CVRD. Assessed values are based on current conditions of the land. As the zone of the lot will remain, the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP has little influence on assessed values. The tax rate is based on the number of services a lot receives, and the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP does not propose to change any services. 

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9. What are the next steps for the draft Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP?
There will be a series of public meetings and open houses over the summer and fall with residents one on one or by neighborhood to discuss specific concerns. Keep checking the Saratoga Miracle Beach LAP website (www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/smblap) to find out when and where a meeting or open house is being held. We will also advertise in the newspaper and there will be mail outs for some of the meetings. We will also inform SAMBRA of the meeting schedule for them to advise their members. Feedback gathered from these events are used to further enhance the plan.

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10. How can I provide comments and suggestion?
You are invited to attend any of the meetings, write letters, compose emails and call staff. We hope to hear from you.

Brian Chow, Long Range Planner, Planning and Development Services Branch
Mailing address: 600 Comox Road, Courtenay, BC V9N 3P6
Email: planningdevelopment@comoxvalleryd.ca
Tel: 250-334-6017

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