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Interface Planning Casebook - Case File_10 > Casebook > Valley Vision

Valley Vision | towards a comprehensive vision for the future of the Bulkley Valley

Interface Planning Casebook - Case File_10

Features of the Case

Large lots in the Settlement Zone, located next to Crown land, parks or lakeshores, have been proposed for rezoning, or already have zoning for six or more lots. Some of these have been proposed as strata and include features such as: common access, water, sewage and private green-space. They all have offered public green-space to add to a park, maintain some treed habitat or to enable public access to adjacent Crown land or water. The proponents are interested in profitability, but also recognize the value of maintaining public and environmental assets and they are agreeable to suggestions where practical. Knowledge of what those assets are prior to lot layout has helped. Sometimes there is one feature, such as Crown land access, impacting scenic view-scapes or connectivity between wildlife-habitat areas that has been an issue, and sometimes it can be viewed as urban sprawl if these areas are outside of rural residential zoning.

These proposed subdivisions may or may not be approved for a range of reasons, but they all offer some benefits lacking in most older subdivisions. They bring new ideas for increased utilization of a limited landbase, which has high environmental and community values at risk, and they can also offer other benefits such as increased ability of residents to age in place, housing diversity etc.

The Problem

Large lots in the rural areas close to town, and particularly adjacent to Crown land, parks or water, are under pressure to be developed as residential subdivisions. As the easy land in close proximity to town has already been developed, or is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, the remaining lots are often those purposely and strategically zoned for large lots to meet habitat, land-stability, or agricultural objectives, or because they have steep topography, difficult access or other challenges. Residential development could theoretically be done in a low-impact way, even with higher density; however examples around the valley show where residential development can have a high impact: massive, hill-side levelling for driveways; creating flat space on a steep hillside and a pattern of steep, narrow lots dividing up rare ecosystems or lakeshores.

Some strata proposals have been developed with very innovative designs and engineering features to address site-level challenges such as sewer, access and habitat conservation; however even a very good design can still be a problem if it is in a location originally zoned for large lots for landscape-level concerns. Some of these include: maintaining a habitat-matrix over developed areas, connectivity adjacent to and between parks, high-biodiversity-value areas, forest-fire risk, limited deer and moose winter range in valley bottom, connectivity along wildlife-travel areas and ground-water recruitment.

The Opportunity

There is opportunity to assess examples, particularly in or near sensitive areas, and to learn from them to develop habitat-related specifications and to identify areas for future strata zoning.

There is opportunity for MOE to be more proactive and identify areas with habitat and water issues, along Crown land, park and town interfaces, before they are privatized or rezoned. This is the only point in processes where there are options to protect areas or to add conditions.

There is also opportunity to work with developers, engineers, government agencies and regional districts to develop aids for developers such as a value-added chart of ideas for sustainability. A check list of ideas could also include links to local experiences or sources of information for dealing with northern situations. This would help future development by building on the experience of local initiatives and making it available to others.

Planning Principles at Stake

Link to Planning Principles


Anne Hetherington (Ministry of Environment)

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