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Urban Containment / Rural Protection

Policy Area 1: Urban Containment and Rural Protection

Urban containment and rural protection refers to the principle of encouraging new development to occur within serviced areas of our communities. There are multiple, inter-related benefits to upholding the principle of urban containment and rural protection:

  • Encouraging the majority of population growth in our core areas can reduce reliance on automobiles by situating residents in proximity to work, shopping, services, and amenities.
  • The viability of public transit is enhanced as the number of potential riders is increased along transit routes.
  • When population growth is focused in serviced urban centres, existing infrastructure can be more efficiently utilized and the timeframe may be extended before costly extensions to roads, sewer, and water lines becomes necessary.

Continued efforts towards urban containment and rural protection will help to protect those attributes of the North Okanagan that make it such a desirable place to live, work, and play: the rural countryside, wilderness, agricultural lands, and natural areas.

How Are We Doing?

Between 2006 and 2011, most of the population growth in the North Okanagan occurred in the incorporated municipalities, while it was considerably slower, or even declined in some cases, within the Electoral Areas. The amount and rate at which land in North Okanagan has been rezoned from a “rural” zone (wherein new lots must be at least 1 ha in size) to other “non-rural” zoning (wherein new lots may be less than 1 ha in size) is one indicator of the demand for new, smaller lots. Communities with relatively high population growth and a small amount of land rezoned from rural to non-rural, may have been sufficiently well served with land ready to accommodate growth without rezoning.  It is evident that the majority of new development is occurring within the growth areas identified in the Regional Growth Strategy.

An indicator in the Agriculture and Food Systems Policy Area is also relevant to the evaluation of Urban Containment and Rural Protection. In this regard, it is interesting to note that since 2011, the amount of land in the North Okanagan within the Agricultural Land Reserve has increased by 26 ha (+/- 0.04%) with the inclusions primarily taking place in the Spallumcheen area.

These factors suggest that, in recent years, the North Okanagan has been doing well in terms of Urban Containment and Rural Protection. As part of the 2013 Quality of Life survey, many respondents strongly agreed that the North Okanagan’s small town feel and rural character is one of the main reasons they live in the area which indicates that efforts ensure urban containment and rural protection should remain a priority.