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Interface Planning Casebook - Case File 9 > Casebook > Valley Vision

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

Interface Planning Casebook - Case File 9

Features of the Case

There are numerous approved plans and land-use designations within the Bulkley Valley, each focusing on different objectives but all being important for planning a community. Theseinclude the Official Community Plans (OCPs) for each town and rural area, community forest management plans and forest stewardship plans, ski area master plan, and Crown land designations for parks, recreation sites and trails, ecological reserves, Regional District development zones, woodlots, wildlife, agriculture land reserve, and scenic areas.

To help bring this information together, and make it easier to use for habitat planning, a planning-boundary context map was developed by Ministry of Environment and Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB) and posted on (under maps- sensitive ecosystems, map#2). The map includes an ecosystem-information layer to show floodplains, winter range, rare and sensitive ecosystems and ranked lakes and streams. The ecosystem network of ‘landscape corridors’ and’ core areas’ from the Bulkley Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) was also included to show the landscape-level, linear connections and sensitive areas running through the valley-bottom Settlement Zone. This is the basic information needed to maintain valley-wide environmental function and key biodiversity areas in more-detailed planning. Although the map was originally intended to assist with habitat planning, it has value to all forms of land use planning and decision-making.

The Problem

The map has been very helpful for reviewing proposals for those who use it, but it is still not being used widely by developers or decision makers because it is either not widely known or available or is not part of the standard process yet. It also needs refining and updating.
When members of the public or agencies receive a referral for proposed rezoning, or for sale or tenure on Crown Land, there is typically no information on the referral map to show where in the planning landscape the proposed development is or what it might affect. Locating and overlapping all the local planning boundaries and environmentally-sensitive areas is very difficult and time consuming, so often referrals are either not responded to or some important implications are missed.

At the other end of the process, developers and government decision makers often only focus on a site in isolation and only become aware of problems late in the process or not at all. Sensitive ecosystem inventory is critical to responsible environmental planning, and most areas either haven’t been mapped at all, or in the detail needed. This frequently results in lost time and resources for developers; frustration and disillusionment for the public, and long processes and conflicts within government. Consistency with adjacent and higher-level plans is often not considered, losing the benefits from strategic-planning processes, and also public confidence.

The Opportunity

There is opportunity to have the 2008 map reviewed by more prospective users to make sure it is user-friendly and contains the type of information needed. There is also opportunity to have it included in local development-review processes as a step to see if a proposal may affect a habitat feature or be in a landscape corridor or core area. ILMB, or Front Counter BC, is apparently working on adding a layer to the provincial data base (LRDW) to add large, signed-off, legal polygons for forestry needs but a more local, ground-up system is needed to augment this for the Settlement Zone and Crown Land interface.

A further map interpretation to help developers, public and government could be jointly developed to identify areas most likely to need proactive, detailed and collaborative planning in anticipation of future development pressure. This would show lands most likely to be targeted for rezoning or Crown Land sale (i.e. large parcels close to towns, water, hill tops, Crown Land etc.) and where they overlap with mapped environmentally-sensitive areas, unstable soils, ground-water recruitment areas and habitat needs. Ultimately this is an opportunity to identify the features needing protection as community and environmental assets, while also identifying opportunities for more well-placed intensive agriculture, economic interests and rural residential development.

Planning Principles at Stake

Link to Planning Principles


Anne Hetherington (Ministry of Environment), Ryan Holmes (Integrated Land Management Bureau GIS), Rose Dykstra (Integrated Land Management Bureau GIS)

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