New Abbotsford city plan approved

New official community plan aims to create a 'city of centres' that reduces residents' dependency on cars.

The city's new OCP lays out how Abbotsford will grow into a city of 200

The city's new OCP lays out how Abbotsford will grow into a city of 200

After two years of work, meetings and discussions with the public, Abbotsford has a new plan. Now, the work begins to make its lofty goals a reality.

Council adopted its new Official Community Plan (OCP) at Monday night’s meeting. The plan has been called “a game-changer” by Mayor Henry Braun and aims to lay out how Abbotsford will grow into a more-compact and less-car-dependent city of 200,000 people.

It attempts to shape where the next 60,000 people to come to Abbotsford will live and work, and focuses on the creation of what planners called “a city of centres.” The plan would see a city centre created around South Fraser Way, which would be transformed into an “urban boulevard,” with urban centres in Clearbrook, along Sumas Way, at the Historic Downtown and the U-District. They, along with 14 neighbourhood centres, would see the bulk of commercial growth, while 75 per cent of new homes would be built in existing neighbourhoods.

“Abbotsford’s new OCP is intended to be a powerful catalyst for a more focused and improved Abbotsford at 200,000 people than it has been up until now,” said Braun in a press release.

The plan was generally well-received at a recent public hearing, although several people questioned a proposal to create “special study areas” where the city would consider asking to remove land currently within the agricultural land reserve for industrial uses or sportsfields

The adoption of the new OCP will be followed by a review of a range of master plans for the city, as well as the creation of plans for the different centres. The plan focuses on land within the city’s urban development boundary; the city has recently launched a review of its land use policies for agricultural land it is calling “AgRefresh.”

For Abbotsford to grow in the way envisioned within the plan, it will also require property owners and developers to propose and build projects that comply with the OCP. Council will also be able to amend the OCP at any time with a simple majority vote.

The entire OCP can be found on the City of Abbotsford’s website: www.abbotsford.ca/ocp.

“I would like to thank the OCP Citizen Advisory Commission and all of the residents who participated in the creation of the new plan,” said Braun. “The community’s interest and valuable input was a key component in ensuring this plan addresses a future Abbotsford that is inclusive of everyone.”

The city has also unveiled an online map tool that lets users explore how the OCP applies to each neighbourhood in Abbotsford. It can be seen by checking the ‘Official Community Plan’ box at http://maps.abbotsford.ca/Html5Viewer/. More information is available at abbotsford.ca/ocp.