Skip to content

City of Port Alberni looks for input on updated Official Community Plan

Plan will look at housing, parks and green space, land use and more
Port Alberni City Hall. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

The City of Port Alberni is reviewing its Official Community Plan (OCP) and is looking for input from city residents.

The city’s current OCP was adopted in 2007 and a review is required “to modernize the plan and make sure it best reflects the values of the community,” according to acting CAO and director of development services Scott Smith.

The review will look at issues including housing, parks and green space, climate action and the environment, transportation, land development and waterfront land use.

During a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 26, Smith said the city has already done some “preliminary” work on the updated OCP, with the help of consultants McElhanney Ltd.

“This community has experienced a lot of development and change, and this is an ideal time for us to create a really strong Official Community Plan to help guide us going forward over the next several years,” Smith explained.

Andy Gaylor, a planner with McElhanney Ltd., previously worked with the City of Campbell River and sees many parallels between Campbell River and Port Alberni.

Historically, he explained, the City of Port Alberni has witnessed some population decline, starting in the 1980s. Since 2014, however, the city has seen “quite rapid growth” in population, with more than one thousand people relocating to the city. Gaylor said he expects this trend of growth to continue.

But housing is an issue in Port Alberni. The majority of the city’s housing (69.4 percent) is made up of single-detached dwellings. The majority was also constructed prior to 1981 (78 percent). Housing prices have been rising “rapidly,” said Gaylor, and declining vacancy rates mean that rental prices are also increasing. Gaylor said there has also been an increase in homelessness in the city.

Port Alberni struggles with the “missing middle” phenomenon. There are many single-family homes and apartments, but not as many duplexes, townhouses and carriage homes.

“There’s a real opportunity to encourage that type of housing to provide more diverse choices for residents,” Gaylor told the committee.

He said there are also opportunities to provide more housing density in the city, close to neighbourhood commercial centres—for example, 10th Avenue and Redford Street. This can help create a more “walkable” community.

A draft of the OCP review will be presented to council in May of this year, then will undergo feedback and revisions. The final presentation is expected to take place in August or September.

In the meantime, the city has launched a survey online at to help gauge the community’s top priorities over the next 20 years.

Consultants are also planning a number of “walkshops” and focus groups to engage with residents. For more information, visit or email

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
Read more