GRAND FORKS Official Community Plan

Updates to the Official Community Plan Bylaw

The City is updating the Official Community Plan (OCP) and will be engaging citizens on many important topics over the coming months, including housing, tourism, downtown, flood mitigation, parks and trails, wayfinding, climate change, and land development.

Questions and/or comments can be sent by email to:


What is an Official Community Plan?

An Official Community Plan (OCP) is a long-term vision for a community. An OCP is the key plan for the future of the City of Grand Forks. An OCP is a series of policies and objectives that guide future decision-making of the City and has legal status as the highest-level plan in the City.

To learn more visit:

How does this affect my day-to-day life?

Housing choice and affordability, parks, trails, a vibrant downtown, and local jobs/economy are just some of the aspects of your everyday life that are influenced by the Official Community Plan (OCP). The OCP directs the City’s future investments in these important aspects of your community.

What key areas are the focus of this OCP update?

Four key topic areas were identified by Council for this OCP update.

  • Market district concept (a vibrant downtown core)
  • Housing
  • Form and character definitions and expectations (the look and design of buildings in your community)
  • Active transportation (walking, cycling, rolling) policies and objectives (e.g. trail networks)

The current OCP will also be streamlined for clarity and readability and reviewed to ensure that it aligns with the Zoning Bylaw and other City planning documents. In addition to updating the OCP, the City is taking on several other initiatives which will be rolling out in the following months. These other projects include:

  • Wayfinding Strategy,
  • Design Charette for the North Ruckle Area, and
  • Policy and Zoning Bylaw updates related to flood plain mitigation.

The community will be engaged on these important projects and topics in the coming months either alongside the OCP update or separately.

How can I get involved and stay updated on the OCP Update Project?

There will be numerous opportunities for public engagement throughout the project beginning in June 2021. Depending on the status of COVID-19, engagement opportunities will be carefully balanced between online platforms and in-person events.

If you would like to sign-up for project updates and upcoming events, please email or stay tuned on the City’s website and Facebook page.

Why is it important I get involved? How does my opinion get incorporated?

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to influence the future of Grand Forks! The OCP was last updated in 2011, 10 years ago, and it has since guided the decisions of the City. Now is the chance to influence the next 10-15 years.

The OCP project team will listen to all voices and ideas during the project. The team will then gather all feedback into a comprehensive understanding from citizens of the local values and priorities for the future of Grand Forks that will assist in guiding the policies in the OCP update. A publicly available What We Heard document will be available following each phase of public engagement. The team has the exciting challenge of bringing together a host of ideas, best practices and perspectives, including: community values and priorities, Council direction, staff direction, consultant team member expertise, and latest best practices in community planning.

Why does the City need to update its Official Community Plan?

The City’s current OCP was adopted in 2011. Since 2011 the City has changed, and it faces new opportunities and challenges. Today, a focused update on the current OCP is required to give a renewed vision for the City.

The City of Grand Forks Strategic Plan 2019 indicates that revising and updating the OCP based on emerging issues is a strategic priority. On August 31st, 2020, Council participated in a workshop which explored that strategic priority further. At that workshop, Council had the opportunity to consider important themes, and various approaches for updating the OCP.

Who will be leading the OCP and Zoning Bylaw project?

Graham Watt, Manager of Strategic Initiatives / Flood Recovery, is the municipal project lead. Following a competitive bid process, the City has contracted a highly qualified consultant team lead by MVH Urban Planning & Design. The consultant team has extensive experience working in similar sized BC municipalities and has completed numerous award-winning community planning projects. Learn more at:

OCP – Wrapping up June

Thank you for your support and enthusiasm during our first week of engagement in Grand Forks. We appreciate everyone who came out to share their ideas, but don’t worry if you missed us! This was only round one of engagement and the project’s introduction, and there will be more opportunities over the summer and fall to get involved.

We managed to get lots of meaningful feedback from the community and are seeing some key themes and ideas emerge, including:

  • More innovative housing options for everyone
  • Preservation of heritage, character, and trees
  • Community cohesion and togetherness!
  • Trail systems and an easier way to move around the city
  • Downtown vibe: create a community hub which is pedestrian friendly, offers a variety in services and stores, and supports local businesses

A quick reflection on our time in Grand Forks…

It is easy to say that our team became enamoured with your city and its beautiful landscape. One of our favourite things we learned about Grand Forks is how flat and bikeable it is, making it great for trails and active transportation. We took a tour through the various neighbourhoods and learned that the city is actually a combination of Grand Prairie and the City of Columbia, and that Market Avenue has great bones to be an amazing hub for the community. We saw the unique character of each neighbourhood, which reinforced the idea of approaching this OCP update with neighbourhood level planning in mind. Notable housing characteristics include generous setbacks, a stunning array of trees that line the streets, and front porches perfect for hot summer days. We noticed that single family units are the primary housing type, and that there are some affordable housing units, but that there is room for variety to improve options for everyone. Grand Forks is a city that is strongly influenced by existing natural systems – slopes, rivers, and wetlands help define the city’s character. We saw a rural agricultural mix and discovered an amazing learning garden made possible by passionate volunteers. We also rekindled our love for borscht!. But enough about our experience….
We are still looking for your feedback!

Stay tuned to the website for project updates or to fill out one of our Community Circles Kits. These kits are designed to get you thinking about your community, complete with an ideas and notes page and survey. Want to pick one up in person? Kits can be picked up and dropped off at City Hall or the library, or scan your kit and email it to us at We love to hear all your thoughts and ideas, and please share far and wide with your community. Once we receive feedback, we will compile the results into a What We Heard Report which we will share with the community. So, stay tuned!

We appreciate having kits returned by July 15.

Get involved with OCP!

Get involved with the OCP!

We have exciting news for citizens of Grand Forks! The City is officially launching the process to update its Official Community Plan (OCP). The OCP affects all of you! Whether you know it or not, the policies in the OCP guide how Grand Forks grows and functions at the highest level.

As we launch the Official Community Plan update, it is important to remember that this is a community led initiative. We want to make sure that you have an opportunity to have your say during this important process. Below we have outlined a few different ways to have your voice heard.

We are now launching our Community Circles Kits, an interactive booklet designed to allow community members to engage with the OCP update from the comfort of their home. The kits explain the background behind the OCP and the different pieces that make a complete community, and allow for feedback via debate questions, survey, and community mapping exercise. Our goal is to get these kits out to the community far and wide, so please share with your friends, family, colleagues, and networks!

Drop in to see us in June at several in-person engagement events. We will be engaging with the community and its members from June 14 – June 16. Join us at the following events:

  1. Farmer’s Market on Tuesday June 15 during the day
  2. Booth at Location TBD, watch for an update!
  3. Big Ideas Reveal @ City Park the evening of Wednesday June 16.

Don’t forget to bring your mask! We will be following Covid-19 safety protocols at all our events. Updates on our engagement schedule, including times and locations, can be found here.

We look forward to hearing all your innovative ideas!

Introduction to Upcoming Updates to the Official Community Plan Bylaw

In British Columbia, provincial legislation gives municipalities the power to develop a variety of land use related bylaws. One such bylaw is an Official Community Plan Bylaw, or OCP for short. Broadly, the OCP is a visioning document which contains statements of objectives, policies, and guidelines that help guide planning and land use decisions.

OCPs are community built in that they rely on public input to articulate the community’s values and ideas on how the community could look and feel in the future. OCP’s are also highly influential documents, if a municipality adopts an OCP, all bylaws and works undertaken by Council must be consistent with the plan. In this sense, the OCP is often understood as the most important plan for a community.

Typically, most communities in BC opt to develop a new OCP or revisit an existing OCP every 10 to 15 years. The City of Grand Forks’ current OCP Bylaw was developed in 2011. At the Regular Meeting of Council on October 5th, 2020, Council directed City staff to pursue a focused update to the OCP. The City is pleased to announce that the contract for this update was awarded to MVH Urban Planning + Design, with a project timeline set for completion in December 2021.

Given that the OCP is functionally the community’s vision for itself, the process for developing or amending an OCP is intensely public. Working with the City, MVH Urban Planning + Design will be engaging the public to gather the thoughts and ideas of the community to inform the update to the OCP. Updating and/or replacing an OCP is a way of ensuring that land use and planning decisions are in alignment with the community’s vision.

This page is dedicated to providing the public with information regarding the OCP update. Be sure to check this page regularly for updates on how you can participate in this exciting process!

Questions and/or comments can be sent by email to:

Get involved!

Contact Information

General Inquiries

City Contact

Graham Watt

Manager of Strategic Initiatives / Flood Recovery

Consultant Contact

MVH Urban Planning & Design

Michael von Hausen