O.U.R. Rezoning Work

Permaculture. Sustainable Food Production. Natural Building. Education. Community.

Overview of Sustainable Land Use Design

Comprehensive Development Zone

The application for a zoning amendment for lot plan #34224 REM 2 was a request to change the existing zone of A2 to a Comprehensive Development Zone. This amendment allows for the creation of an ‘ecovillage’ and provides for specific uses of ecological education, ecological restoration/enhancement, organic farming and food production and multiple dwellings.

ECOVILLAGE DEFINITION

The term ‘ecovillage’ refers to a “full-featured settlement in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world in a way that is supportive of healthy human development and can be successfully continued into the indefinite future” (Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities, Robert Gilman, 1991). There is a formal network of over 300 Ecovillages around the world, 7 of which are in Canada. This network has been created by Government and non-Government community development specialists and planners.

OFFICIAL COMMUNITY PLAN CONSIDERATIONS -

Our proposal for a comprehensive development for this property has been guided by the objectives of the Official Community Plan, taking into account the topography, historic land use, land ownership, soils, services, and environmental features of the property.

Our interests are to :

  1. Preserve the natural qualities of the land by protecting and regenerating woodlands and wetlands.
  2. Preserve and develop the agriculture potential of the land using sustainable, traditional, and organic practices.
  3. Provide for a variety of residential accommodation and different lifestyles while preserving the rural character of the property and neighborhood.
  • Density Averaging has been applied to encourage more efficient use of the land and protect the agricultural and ecological features of the site.
  • Maximum density will comply with the density permitted under the existing zoning with a conventional subdivision of this property.
  • A septic system to support this development has been pre-approved by Ministry of Health (2450 gallons/file #33779). This has been completed to confirm viability for stewardship housing though the actual system will eventually be designed as an alternative wastewater biological treatment system.
  • Stewards residences will be clustered away from neighbouring property lines.
  • Restriction has been placed on the number of programs and participants to maintain the rural, agricultural nature of the property and surrounding neighbourhood.
  • We have begun the process of covenanting the property in order to ensure the enjoyment of a peaceful environment for our neighbours, protect ecologically sensitive areas, and continue O.U.R. heritage practices of farming.

O.U.R. ECOVILLAGE Development

A group interested in creating a model demonstration community rooted in social, ecological and economic well-being began development of O.U.R. (One United Resource) ECOVILLAGE in 1990.

Phase I

involved a number of visioning workshops involving planners, agrologists, permaculture specialists, educators, a lawyer, health professionals, public and private sector individuals. The outcome of Phase I was to purchase a rural agricultural property which could integrate education, residential, and ecological uses.

Phase II

focused on obtaining land within the Cowichan Valley and presenting OUR ECOVILLAGE concept to the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Advisory Planning Commission.

Phase III

Baldy Mountain Road property was purchased in March 1999. Intensive site development planning continued with CVRD, surveyors, Min of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Highways, Cowichan Community Land Trust, and sustainable development and renewable energy specialists. Concurrently, we continued to support local networking and community development initiatives within the Cowichan Valley, South Vancouver Island, and now even Internationally.

Phase IV

was the submission of the Application for a Comprehensive Development Zone.

Phase V (2003)

includes the implementation of the development plan over a five year period and the registration of a new ownership and governance model. This includes the Canadian Research project on “F.O.G. – Finance, Ownership and Governance of Landshare Projects” which involves a legal team compiling best practices and models for how shared land projects can fund, provide hybrid ownership and govern (liability, accountability, etc) the land and projects they run.

Phase VI (2007)

Incorporation of a new hybrid Co-op for multi-stakeholder and multi-activity structuring of ownership for the land. This includes lease agreements and all legal structuring to provide for legal relationship linkages between organizations, individuals, and other institutions that all utilize the land a ‘Learning Community’ and extension classroom space. In keeping with our principles of inclusivity and diverse ownership, the land will be transferred to the new legal entity once the finance and Covenant work is complete.

O.U.R. ECOVILLAGE STRUCTURE

O.U.R. ECOVILLAGE is more than a place! The most important component of OUR Ecovillage is not the buildings or the land. The wide range of people who have contributed to this project are at the heart of our ecovillage.

  • An important focus of our activities is partnering with individuals and organizations in the Cowichan Valley, our bioregion, and the world to support the development of more sustainable communities.
  • A registered non-profit society, Our Community Association, has been formed to facilitate our educational activities, partnerships with other organizations, and the involvement of individuals.

The following is an overview of the general sectors which we have defined within the new overall Comprehensive Development Zone(see attached site plan). Inherent in this new CD Zone is the understanding that the full 25 acres becomes a ‘classroom’ of sorts as the use within all sectors will involve demonstration and education of ecological principles.

SECTOR 1 WOODLANDS/WETLANDS CONSERVATION

• Mapped this sector with Cowichan Community Land Trust to inventory and defined areas for ‘sensitive-ecosystem’ conservation covenants to protect swamp areas and wetlands.
• Will manage regenerative ecosystems projects to reintroduce native plant/animal species.
• Plan integrated natural water systems management
• Woodlot management involving selective harvesting within existing alder stand and reforesting with deciduous & coniferous trees;
• Increase diversity of woodlot species including mushrooms, medicinal herbs and craft materials.
• Introduce & manage hedgerows along perimeter line of property and driveway to provide a buffer to the neighbouring properties.

SECTOR 2 AGRICULTURAL

• Combination of poultry, small livestock [sheep, goats,etc] for residents food and agricultural revenue.
• Enlargement of fruit, nut and berry orchards.
• Expansion of vegetable, herb, and flower gardens.
• Further development of greenhouse and nursery operation.
• Production of ‘value-added’ agricultural products (seeds, dried flowers and herbs, and processed foods).

SECTOR 3 RESIDENTIAL

• Building designed to be energy and space efficient with density and building footprints comparable to the existing property zoning.
• shared facilities (such as utilities, recreational and workshops).
• will continue to work with Development Services, other agencies, and private businesses to integrate conventional and innovative sustainable building and renewable energy technologies.
• pedestrian focus with access road to be approved for use by emergency vehicles.

SECTOR 4 ECOLOGICAL EDUCATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

• Situated in the area where existing residential, agricultural and accessory buildings are located.
• Provides central gathering area for community educational activities.
• Conversion of existing residence to include Bed and Breakfast accommodation with the potential creation of a Bed & Breakfast accessory building.
• Expand accessory buildings to include a workshop and studio.
• Small tenting area to be provided for limited number of overnight workshop participants

Additional uses include:

accommodation [Eco-B&B, dorm space, camping] and food service (adjacent to the educational programming), small businesses related to ‘value-added’ agriculture, and one for-profit domestic business onsite. Perhaps a full triple bottom line for sustainable community design.

LOCAL COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

Cowichan Valley Regional District
Kelsey Senior Secondary
Brentwood College
Vancouver Island University
Cowichan Community Land Trust
Farmers Institute
Cowichan Mental Health Association
Cowichan Community Center
Shawnigan Preservation Society
Shawnigan Lake Watershed Watch
Community Futures/Future Corp.
Providence Farm
Rotary Foundation
Cowichan Elders/Cowichan Tribes
Building Bridges Consulting
Ancestral Trails
BC Alternative Energy Association
Vancity Credit Union
Island Savings Credit Union
Pearson College

WIDER COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

University of Victoria-Faculty of Human and Social Development, BC Institute for Co-operative Studies, Faculty of Law
University of Victoria-Environmental Studies Program
Vancouver Island University
Royal Roads University
University of British Columbia
Camosun College
University of Northern BC
Fielding University
Ecovillage Network (Canada, Americas, and Global networks)
Federation of Intentional Communities-international
Coalition of Natural Builders and Ecologists-international
Econews-Victoria
Lifecycles Environmental Program-Victoria
Victoria Compost Education Center
The Land Conservancy of British Columbia
Real Estate Foundation
Renewal Partners
Barapel Foundation
Sierra Foundation
Canada Mortgage and Housing
Canadian Home Builders Association
Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Notary Foundation
Coop Development Initiative (Ag-Canada)
Home Depot
A wide variety of local businesses and contractors

**This listing is by no means exhaustive and includes only those organizations which have collaborated on some form of programming or development work with O.U.R. ECOVILLAGE to date. The list does not detail the wide number of organizations who have made potential plans to build partnerships in some form with us. Also not included are all the incredibly helpful levels of Governmental support that have partnered in O.U.R. development phases and the companies/corporations/individuals who have generously sponsored O.U.R. ECOVILLAGE through the contribution of material items, services, and volunteer time.

Permaculture. Sustainable Food Production. Natural Building. Education. Community.