Bylaw 302 Bella Coola Official Community Plan

Bylaw Number


A bylaw to adopt the Official Community Plan for the Bella Coola Valley.

WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 875 of the Municipal Act the Regional Board may have community plans prepared or revised from time to time;

AND WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 875 of the Municipal Act the Regional Board may prepare an official community plan for areas outside of a municipality;

NOW THEREFORE, the Regional Board of the Central Coast Regional District in open meeting assembled, ENACTS AS FOLLOWS:

  1. This Bylaw may be cited for all purposes as the "Bella Coola Valley Official Community Plan Designation Bylaw No. 302, 1998"
  2. Schedules 1, A, B, C, and D attached hereto to the Bylaw form an integral part of the Bylaw.
  3. If an action, a section, a subsection, clause or phrase of the Bylaw is for any reason held to be invalid or illegal by the decision of any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining section, subsection, sentences, clauses or portions of this bylaw.
  4. Bella Coola Valley Official Settlement Plan Bylaw No. 85, 1985 and amendments thereto is hereby repealed.

READ a first time this 13th day of May , 1998.

READ a second time this 13th day of May , 1998.

PUBLIC HEARING held this 13th day of , 1999.

READ a third time this day of , 1999.


RECONSIDERED, FINALLY PASSED AND ADOPTED by the Regional Board of the Central Coast Regional District this day of , 1999.

Chairman of the Board Administrator I, Donna Mikkelson, Administrator of the Central Coast Regional District certify that this is a true and current copy of Bylaw No. 302 of the Central Coast Regional District cited as "Bella Coola Valley Official Community Plan Designation Bylaw No. 302, 1988".

Donna Mikkelson


    • 1.1 What is an Official Community Plan? .............. 1
    • 1.2 What a Plan Can and Cannot ....................... 1
    • 1.3 The Official Community Plan Update ............... 1
    • 1.4 Who has Been Involved in the Planning Process .... 2
    • 1.5 Planning Area ...................................2
    • 1.6 First Nations Lands .............................. 2
    • 2.1 General .......................................... 3
    • 2.2 Fundamental Approach ............................. 3
    • 2.3 Context for the Vision ........................... 3
    • 2.4 Key Features of the Vision ....................... 4
    • 2.5 Concluding Comments .............................. 5
    • 3.1 General .......................................... 6
    • 3.2 Residential Development .......................... 6
    • 3.3 Commercial Development ........................... 8
    • 3.4 Industrial Development ........................... 9
    • 3.5 Agriculture and Forestry ......................... 10
    • 3.6 Public, Institutional and Recreational ........... 12
    • 3.7 Natural Hazards .................................. 13
    • 3.8 Natural Environment .............................. 14
    • 3.9 Transportation ................................... 16
    • 3.10 Utilities ....................................... 17
    • 4.1 Subdivision servicing and Zoning bylaw ........... 18
    • 4.2 Agency Liaison ................................... 18
    • 4.3 Siting and Use Permits ........................... 18

Schedule A - Land Use Map

Schedule B - Hazard Land Map

Schedule C - Environmentally Sensitive Areas Map



Official Community Plans (OCPs) have become a useful and widely adopted policy tool of local governments for land use planning. A plan provides a degree of certainty about the location and nature of community change to residents and landowners as well as serving as a guide for local government elected officials when they make decisions regarding development, zoning and providing the required services to accommodate growth. A community plan can provide communities with the certainty that they need to remain stable living environments. The policies of a Community Plan can also help to guide the decisions of the building industry in a positive way. They are intended to reflect a broad consensus of opinion molded into a framework for future development an a strategy for managing future growth.

In British Columbia, all Official Community Plans are prepared and adopted within the statutory provisions of the Municipal Act. The Municipal Act prescribes the general content of Official Community Plans and also sets out a formal procedure for adopting a Plan. This plan has been prepared and adopted in accordance with the requirements of the Municipal Act and is , therefore, considered a legal document.


The requirements or legislated content of an Official Community Plan are set out in Section 877 of the Municipal Act. The Act outlines a broad framework with which the OCP must comply, essentially a statement of goals, objectives and policies. In stating the goals, objectives and policies, the OCP is intended to guide future growth, not to regulate.

The Zoning Bylaw will be the primary tool to regulate development, not the OCP. The OCP can only encourage senior levels of government to take action by stating the Regional Board´s objectives with respect to matters outside its jurisdiction, thus it cannot force or require senior governments to act. While various agencies have different responsibilities, the OCP encourages liaison and co-operation between all the authorities. Furthermore, although the OCP cannot commit the Regional Board to specific expenditures, the Board cannot enact bylaws or undertake works that are contrary to it without amending the OCP.


This Official Community Plan is an update of the one that was prepared in the mid 1980´s. Over the last 10 years a number of events have occurred that necessitate a review of the Plan, including changes to Provincial planning legislation (Municipal Act), preparation of the hazard and mapping overview, increased development interest in the Valley, and ever evolving policies and regulations of various Provincial government agencies. As well, it is common practice to update an Official Community Plan every 5-10 years.


The residents of the Bella Coola Valley were invited to participate in the planning process by way of attending meetings and responding to questionnaires. The first public meeting was held to present the planning process and to discuss planning issues. At the second meeting, options were outlined and discussed regarding future residential development areas. A draft of the OCP is also being distributed to the agencies for comment. The board will review all the comments prior to finalizing the Plan.


The OCP applies to the areas so designated on the Official Community Plan Maps. Generally it applies to lends in the Bella Coola Valley outside of the Provincial Forest from the North Bentinck Arm in the west to Stuie in the east. This area is included within portions of Electoral Areas C, D and E.


The OCP does not apply to lands located within any Indian Reserve controlled by the Nuxalk Nation.



As an OCP is intended to provide a generalized course of action regarding future land use and development, the key element of the Plan is the vision by which future growth can be managed. The vision establishes the foundation for setting goals and objectives and in formalizing policies. Again, it is important to distinguish between a Zoning Bylaw which regulates development, and an Official Community Plan which guides future development.


The fundamental thrust of the vision for the Bella Coola Valley is to maintain the rural character of the Valley while at the same time accommodating new growth that is respectful of the land´s environmental sensitivity and the Valley´s natural hazards. Development proposals or senior government initiatives that do not fit in with this vision are not considered appropriate for the valley.


An OCP typically looks 5 to 10 years into the future with regards to managing future growth. The Bella Coola Valley is in a geographically isolated location within the Province and as such is not expected to experience significant growth over the next decade. While statistics may not be available to ascertain historic construction trends, the following housing unit projections have been prepared to provide a context for future growth.



1.4. units/year | 20 units/year | 50 units/year

5 Year 10 Year 5 Year 10 Year 5 Year 10 Year
50 Year 100 Units 100 Units 200 Units 250 Units 500 Units


0.5 - acre Density 1 - acre Density 5 - acre Density

50 units 100 units 200 units 500 units 
25 acres 50 acres 100 acres 250 acres
50 acres 100 acres 200 acres 500 acres
250 acres 500 acres 1,000 acres 2,000 acres

These tables provide a variety of growth scenarios and land requirements for the valley. Taking the combination of 10 new dwelling units a year over a 10-year period at an average density of 1 unit/acre as an example, 100 acres of residential land would be required to accommodate new development. While it is neither possible nor advisable to predict growth levels, and OCP should be structured in such a way that it can respond to a variety of growth scenarios. As such, this Plan has been set up to accommodate both the short term low growth scenario (i.e. 50 - 100 lots over the next 5 - 10 year period), while at the same time identifying lands to accommodate the long term needs or a more accelerated rate of growth.


The following are the key elements of the vision for the Bella Coola Valley. These are intended to be broad statements of intent, their purpose being to set the tone for the policy framework.

  1. Protect the Natural Setting

    The Bella Coola Valley has been blessed with a spectacular natural setting. The grandeur of the mountain ranges, the myriad of rivers and creeks with their sport and commercial resource fishery, the biodiversity of the Bella Coola River estuary, and the greenery of the Valley bottom lands all contribute to the unique character of the area. The preservation and protection of this character is critical to the residents of the Bella Coola Valley. It is the reason people have chosen the Bella Coola Valley as their community.

  2. Respect the Natural Hazards

    While the natural environment certainly provides residents of the Valley with a unique setting to live, work and recreate in, it also poses a number of constraints particularly with respect to natural hazards -- be it river flooding, alluvial fan and debris flows, or avalanches. A major thrust of the Plan is to acknowledge and respect these hazards and therefore to direct growth to those areas where the hazard risk can be avoided or minimized.

  3. Promote Jobs and the Economy

    Jobs and employment help to ensure community stability. An important element of the Plan is to promote sustainable development by designating lands for economic development initiatives, be it in the resource sector through community forests or in the service sector through tourism opportunities.

  4. Deliver Services in a Cost Efficient Manner

    The development pattern of a community influences to a large extent the public expenditures that are required to service and support the population. Since the Bella Coola Valley is elongated and narrow, service delivery is very challenging. To address this issue, new growth will be encouraged to occur within or in close proximity to the existing settlement areas, be it the Bella Coola Townsite, Hagensborg or Nusatsum.


Over the next 5 - 10 years, the Bella Coola Valley will continue to experience changes as it has over the 5 - 10 years. The changes are not expected to be massive, but will likely occur gradually in an incremental manner. New housing development will take place preferably in locations that are not subject to a high degree of hazard and that can be serviced with the existing community infrastructure. The Plan calls for the Valley to remain rural and to retain the character that its residents so clearly value.



The policy framework described in this section of the Plan is intended to provide direction to the Regional Board with respect to achieving the vision outlined in the previous section. Decisions that the Board will be required to make on matters such as rezoning proposals. Infrastructure initiatives, and responding to senior government programs and referrals will be made consistent with the policy framework described in this section. The policy framework is not intended to be regulatory. That is the role of bylaws such as the Zoning Bylaw. Consequently, instead of establishing prescriptive rules such as minimum lot sizes, the policy framework focuses on the general direction and thrust of the land use pattern.


3.2.1 General Approach

Over the next 5 - 10 year period, the Bella Coola Valley will continue to experience modest growth in residential development. The challenge facing the Regional Board is identifying opportunities for new residential development where the risks of the natural hazards of the Valley are minimized and where residential settlements can be serviced in an economically viable manner. Another major constraint is the Agricultural Land reserve. Given these factors, the Board´s major thrust is to direct new residential development to established settlement areas, being the Bella Coola Townsite, Hagensborg and Nusatsum. A longer term initiative is the development of the Saloompt Benchlands. Land in the Valley, other than the aforementioned areas, may also be developed for residential use but is not intended to be developed at the same density or intensity as th four major development areas.

3.2.2 Policies

  1. A variety of lot sizes and densities will be accommodated within the three Primary Settlement Areas: the Bella Coola Townsite, Hagensborg and Nusatsum.

For development proposals that require rezoning, the board will utilize the following criteria in assessing whether a development proposal should proceed:

  1. is compatible with the character of the surrounding residential neighborhood;
  2. can be serviced with water supply, sewage disposal, roads, and fire protection in an economical fashion without imposing a financial burden on the community;
  3. can be protected from the presence of a potential natural hazard; and
  4. does not negatively impact upon the Agricultural Land Reserve.
  5. As noted on the Land Use Map, all development proposals for land within the Agricultural land reserve shall e subject to compliance of the Agricultural Land Commission Act and all rezoning and subdivision applications will require approval from the Agricultural Land Commission. (See policy 3.5.2(2))
  6. New residential development outside of the Primary Settlement Areas will be accommodated. However, small lot subdivisions, multiple family development, and mobile home parks will not be considered appropriate outside of the Primary Settlement Areas, as the board does not intend to create additional Primary Settlement Areas.
  7. The Saloompt Benchland area, identified as Future Primary Settlement Area on the Land Use Map, is considered the Valley´s long term development area. Its major constraint is its poor access and lack of services, and until such infrastructure can be provided, the area will not be considered appropriate for major development. The preparation of a sub-area plan for the Saloompt area will be required before any major development proposals will be considered by the board. A portion of the Saloompt Benchland may in the future assume status as part of a Community Forest License for small scale harvest. Such operations are considered compatible with residential settlement areas. Planning for a Community Forest would include habitat protection (particularly black tailed deer and grizzly bears), rotation age, and carrying capacity of Community Forest infrastructure.
  8. Prezoning of land for residential use anticipated in this Plan will not be undertaken. Development proposals consistent with the policies of this Plan, but not appropriately zoned, will be subject to the rezoning process.
  9. In preparing a new Zoning Bylaw, the Board will consider various options and mechanisms to address the location and siting of manufactured homes, particularly as they relate to their visibility along Highway 20.

3.2.3 Land Use Map

The Bella Coola Townsite, Hagensborg and Nusatsum areas have been designated as the Primary Settlement Areas. Given the General nature of the designation, it should be recognized that, in addition to the Regional District rezoning process, development of some lands within this designation may also be subject to Provincial Government regulations such as the ALR or the floodplain. In such cases, these lands may not be developed until the appropriate Provincial Government agency has granted its approval. Schedules B and C provide information on hazard lands and environmentally sensitive areas respectively, matters that will impact upon future development potential. Land outside of the Primary Settlement Area that is not situated within the Agricultural Land Reserve has been designated as Rural. Given the general nature of the designation, it should be recognized that the development of some of these lands within this designation may be subject to Provincial Government regulations relating to environmental matters.


3.3.1 General Approach

Over the next 5 - 10 year period, the Bella Coola Valley will likely experience a small increase in commercial development. New commercial development will likely be as a result of tourist commercial opportunities, and new commercial activities to service the growth in population. In order to protect the rural character of the Valley and to avoid strip commercial development along the Highway, new commercial development will be directed to locate within a Primary Settlement Area, with the possible exception of tourist commercial development that requires close proximity to a recreational amenity such as the ocean, a river or a mountain setting, and service commercial that would benefit by being in close proximity to the airport.

3.3.2 Commercial Development

  1. New commercial sites will not be prezoned in the Zoning Bylaw, but will require rezoning.
  2. New commercial development that requires rezoning will be required to satisfy the following conditions:
    1. is compatible with the surrounding land uses;
    2. can be adequately serviced with water supply, sewage disposal, roads and fire protection;
    3. provides the necessary buffers to minimize impact on adjacent lands and riparian zones where applicable; and
    4. can demonstrate that the commercial activity will create local employment and enhance local service delivery.
  3. The development of new commercial sites along Highway 20 will be required to be designed in such a manner that avoids a strip commercial appearance.
  4. As a means of accommodating commercial development in a rural context, the Zoning Bylaw will contain regulations that will accommodate home occupations.

3.3.3 Land Use Map

No specific commercial land use designation will be utilized. The Primary Settlement Areas were considered appropriate for commercial development.

Other land use designations may accommodate commercial development subject to the satisfaction of the rezoning criteria, and any Provincial Government regulations.


3.4.1 General Approach

Over the next 5 - 10 year period, a modest amount of industrial activity is anticipated. Industrial activity will be directed to locate in specific locations, namely the harbour area for those activities that require water access, at the airport and the Little Valley Forest Products mill site on Saloompt Road where water access is not important. In certain circumstances, new industrial activity may be situated outside of these two areas but only if certain criteria can be satisfied.

3.4.2 Policies

  1. New industrial sites will not be prezoned in the Zoning Bylaw, but will require rezoning.
  2. New industrial activities that require rezoning will be required to satisfy the following conditions:
    1. is compatible with the surrounding land uses and does not pose a burden on adjacent or nearby residences;
    2. can be adequately serviced with water supply, sewage disposal and roads;
    3. provides the necessary buffers to minimize impact on adjacent lands and riparian zones where applicable; and
    4. can demonstrate that the industrial activity will not create environmental problems; and
    5. can demonstrate that the commercial activity will create local local employment and enhance local service delivery.

3.4.3 Land Use Map

The harbour, the airport and the Little Valley Forest Products mill site areas have been designated as Industrial. It is recognized that the airport lands are located within the Agricultural Land Commission. Industrial activity may be accommodated in other designated areas provided that the rezoning criteria can be satisfied.


3.5.1 General Approach

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a dominant force in the Valley in that a considerable amount of land, particularly between the Townsite and Nusatsum, is located within the Reserve. To a large extent the ALR boundaries in this area of the Valley coincide with the boundaries of the Bella Coola River floodplain. The Regional District´s overall vision to maintain the rural character of the area generally respecting the spirit and intent of the Agricultural Land Reserve and its approach of protecting agricultural land. There are, however, two areas that the Board would like to be considered for possible exclusion from the Reserve - the pockets of settlement in the Hagensborg area including land around the airport, and the land in the Saloompt Road area west of the Saloompt River. The pockets of settlement in the Hagensborg area adjacent to the Bella Coola Highway are seen as having logical subdivision infill potential given the ease of access and the availability of services. The Saloompt Road area is the long term future residential development area of the Valley and is generally outside the floodplain and alluvial fan areas.

Forestry Activities primarily occur outside of the OCP boundaries within the Dean

Provincial Forest and therefore is beyond the scope of this Plan. However, there are areas located within the Forest Land Reserve within the OCP area. Most of these areas lies east of the Nusatsum River and are not in conflict with existing or future development initiatives. However, there is one site in the Saloompt Road area that falls within the Saloompt Primary Settlement Area, and its exclusion from the FLR would be beneficial to planning the long term development of the Saloompt PSA.

However, in this OCP the Board will not be pursuing exclusion of the land from the FLR.

3.5.2 Policies

  1. The Regional Board supports the Agricultural Land Reserve.
  2. The Primary settlement Area designation is intended to recognize and complement the existing development pattern in the Valley. parts of this area lie within the ALR and notwithstanding the Board´s general support for the ALR it is prepared to support applications to the Agricultural Land Commission for exclusion, subdivision and non-farm uses in the Primary Settlement Areas, provided they are accompanied by rationale explaining the underlying need for the development and how it will complement the goal of a more compact efficient settlement pattern. The Agricultural Land Commission had advised that it is prepared to give serious consideration to applications, supported by the Board, on lands under the Primary Settlement Area designation.
  3. The Regional Board supports the Forest Land Reserve.
  4. The Regional Board supports the creation of a Community Forest within the Bella Coola Valley.
  5. The Regional Board will pursue with the Ministry of Forests the fine-tuning of the Provincial Forest boundary to accommodate initiatives such as community forests, economic development or residential settlement.

3.5.3 Land Use Map

The land within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) have been designated Agricultural in the Land Use Plan except for those lands within the ALR located within the Primary Settlement Area designation, in which case the ALR boundary has been identified.

The lands within the Forest Land Reserve (FLR) have been designated Forestry in the Land Use Plan.


3.6.1 General Approach

Public, institutional and recreational includes lands that are used to provide services to the population, such as schools, parks, community centers, etc. The Board´s approach is to generally accommodate such land uses anywhere within the OCP area.

3.6.2 Policies

  1. With regards to Section 941 of the Municipal Act, the Regional District will determine for each individual subdivision whether 5% of the subdivided land or money in lieu may be required. In general, the Regional District will require land to be dedicated as park land as a condition of subdivision approval in cases where suitable land exists, both in terms of terrain and location for the development of an active park for being part of a trail system, or for protection/preservation of an environmental amenity.
  2. Community facilities serving the needs of the population will be encouraged to locate within the Primary Settlement Areas. However, where such locations cannot be secured, other locations will be considered appropriate provided that the site can be adequately serviced and be adequately protected from a natural hazard.
  3. No new school sites will be needed during the lifetime of this Plan.
  4. The Regional District will encourage major property owners such as B.C Hydro, the forest companies, B.C. Environment and Lands, etc. to designate lands for public open space that may be environmentally sensitive or that may be particularly important to the community. One such example would be the Bella Coola River estuary.

3.6.3 Land Use Map

Other than major parks and recreational areas such as the Saloompt Forest Trail, Tweedsmuir Park, Walker Island, Lobelco Hall/Fairgrounds and Snootli Creek Park being designated Recreational, site specific public and institutional uses have not been specifically designated.


3.7.1 General Approach

There are a number of natural hazards within the Bella Coola Valley, be it floodplain, alluvial fan or avalanche. These hazards are generally identified on the Hazard Map attached as Schedule B to the Official Community Plan. The Board´s general approach with respect to hazard lands is to direct development to be located outside of hazard areas. However, given the preponderance of hazard land in the Valley, it may not be possible to completely avoid development on hazard land. In such cases, development will be accommodated but only when specific measures are undertaken to reduce the risk of hazard, be it floodproofing of buildings or construction of protective works. Notwithstanding the Board´s willingness to accommodate limited development on hazard lands under certain conditions, the Board acknowledges that development within hazard lands will, in most cases, be subject to Provincial Government approval.

3.7.2 Policies

  1. In considering the approval of development proposals, the Regional District´s review will take into account the presence of a hazard. In cases where Provincial approvals are not required, the Regional District may require that a hazard study be undertaken to address the hazard issue.
  2. The Regional District will work with provincial and federal government agencies to manage th use development of hazard lands.
  3. The Regional District may consider introducing a Siting and Use Permit process as a means of regulating the siting and construction of buildings within hazard lands. Implementation of this policy would enable restrictive covenants and regulations imposed by the senior levels of government to be better enforced.
  4. The Regional District will encourage the BC Environment and Lands - Water Management Section to undertake a more comprehensive review of the hazard lands within the Valley with the intent of better defining the areas of the Nusatsum Alluvial Fan given the inclusion of this area within a Primary Settlement Area.
  5. The Regional District will continue to liaise with the Ministry of Environment with respect to resolving the issue of long term maintenance of protective works
  6. Recreational open space, agricultural, and forestry uses are considered appropriate use of hazard lands that can not be mitigated or protected.

3.7.3 Hazard Lands Map

Areas considered as natural hazard (i.e. floodplain, alluvial fan and avalanche) are not specifically identified as such on the Land Use Map; that is the role of Schedule B, the Hazard Map. The Land Use Map identifies general land uses and shall be used in conjunction with the Hazard Lands Map in determining appropriate future land uses.


3.8.1 General Approach

Given the limited resources of the Regional District, the OCP acknowledges that the protection of the natural environment in the Bella Coola Valley will largely be the responsibility of the Federal and Provincial Governments. However, the Regional District recognizes the need to live, work and recreate in a clean, healthy environment and is committed to protecting natural areas for the habitat of fish and wildlife and for the enjoyment of its residents and ecotourists within the extent of its authority. The Regional District also recognizes that a balance needs to be struck between environmental protection and economic development, as both are esse