Official Community Plan (OCP)

What is an Official Community Plan (OCP)?

An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a legally required City bylaw which enables City Council to plan, co-ordinate and manage the City's sustainability, social, economic and land use interests, over the long term (e.g., 2041).

An OCP reflects the overall values of the community by establishing a City vision, goals and objectives for future sustainability, development and servicing, and policies and urban design guidelines to achieve the vision.

As a community is comprised of many interests (for example, residents, property owners, community groups, developers, investors), preparing an OCP requires consultation and a public hearing before it is approved.

OCPs must also meet legislative requirements, for example by:

  • addressing Bill 27 Green House Gas [GHG] targets and policy requirements (by May 31, 2010), and
  • establishing appropriate housing policies to meet anticipated needs, for a period of at least five years, and
  • including a Regional Context Statement (RCS) to indicate how the OCP will implement the Metro Vancouver (MV) Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

The City of Richmond adopted its first Official Community Plan in 1986, updated it in 1999 and in November 2012, adopted the 2041 OCP Bylaw 9000.

View the OCP Online

Richmond’s 2041 OCP Bylaw 9000 is comprised of Schedule 1 - the overall OCP which addresses City wide matters, the 2041 OCP Land Use Map and the 2041 Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) Map. The OCP Schedule 2 Bylaws 7100 and 9000 contain the 6 Area Plans (e.g. City Centre) and 13 Sub Area Plans (e.g. Thompson) which address neighbourhood issues.

Main 2041 Official Community Plan - Bylaw 9000 Schedule 1


2041 OCP Land Use

2041 OCP Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA)

Area and Sub-Area Plans - Bylaws 7100 and 9,000 Schedule 2

Why is the OCP Important? The OCP ensures that the many interests such as sustainability, land use, and investment in a community are directed towards a common vision and that change is managed and coordinated. The OCP provides certainty for residents, land owners and the City about the future (the current OCP plans for 2041).

Without an OCP, individuals pursuing their own interests could make separate and uncoordinated decisions which may generate undesirable consequences. For example, if a fast food restaurant with a 24 hour drive-through were to locate in the middle of a quiet residential neighbourhood, it could generate complaints which the City would be asked to solve. With an OCP, these situations can be avoided.

Who Uses an OCP? Residents, property owners, community groups, developers and investors use the OCP to learn about where and how future growth (for example, land use, density, architectural character) may occur and then make decisions and prepare development proposals which conform to it.

Council is guided by the OCP when making decisions about zoning, development and servicing.

How Does the OCP Work?

Preparation and Adoption

  • Council authorizes the preparation of an OCP. It is adopted after study, analysis, public consultation and a Public Hearing.


The OCP:

  • Becomes implemented as people make decisions to change the City, develop and redevelop.
  • Residents, property owners, community groups, developers and investors prepare proposals which are to conform to the OCP, if they are to be approved.
  • Council’s actions, future bylaws and works are to be consistent with the OCP; however, the OCP bylaw does not commit Council to proceed with specific projects identified in the OCP.
  • Senior governments are not regulated by the OCP, but are encouraged to follow it when undertaking projects or development within the City.

Amending and Updating The OCP

  • Amending: An OCP may be amended at any time. Council usually amends it several times a year to keep it relevant and effective in light of changing social, environmental and economic needs, public and Council preferences and legislation.
  • Updating: Council may authorize an update of the OCP periodically.
What is the Difference Between the OCP and the Zoning Bylaw? The OCP establishes what the City wants to be by a certain time in the future. Its vision and policies indicate if, how and where land uses may remain or change - and that new uses may be allowed.

The Zoning Bylaw establishes the existing regulations (for example, land use, density, building height, set backs) regarding how a property can be used now.

If an owner wants to change the land use, density, etc., of a property, Council will need to approve a “rezoning” of the site to another appropriate zone, which will require a public hearing.

The OCP is supported by other City policies such as the City’s Annual Budget, 5 Year Capital Works Budget, Zoning Bylaw, Subdivision Control Bylaw, Development Cost Charges Bylaw, Building Bylaw, Flood Protection Bylaw, heritage bylaws, sustainability policies, etc. See the Bylaws section for more information.