Town council committee of the whole meeting, Aug. 22.Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 26, 2022 at 07:34

By Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Niagara-on-the-Lake adopted its new official plan almost three years ago but now the Region of Niagara is demanding “significant” changes before approving it.

Any municipal plan has to be integrated with the region’s and province’s wider vision, which NOTL officials knew.

They had hoped there would only be minor tweaks demanded by the region.

But a planning department report to council on Monday, Aug. 22, says the changes coming to the official plan could be extensive after the region approved its own new official plan in June.

The town must update its plan in multiple areas, including growth management, housing, agriculture, environment and transportation.

“It seems like we are definitely the low end of the totem pole when it comes to anything to do with planning,” said Coun. Gary Burroughs.

“It seems like the region has a great deal to say about our community,” he added.

The town’s plan dealt with population growth until 2041, but that changed after the province amended its own growth plan.

The changes extended Ontario’s projections for employment and population growth for the Golden Horseshoe area to 2051. 

The town’s revised plan will have to accommodate that change.

That could have substantial impact on the Glendale neighbourhood, which the region sees as a key area for population growth, the staff report said.

The region also increased the target density for NOTL to 25 per cent from 15 per cent. 

“Did anybody ask us?” said Burroughs. 

Kirsten McCauley, the town’s director of community and development services, said the secondary draft of the official plan is still in its early stages and council can expect to see additional plans on transportation, infrastructure and finances in the future.

While the province has received the town’s official plan, it also has not given it final approval.

The “significant” alterations to the plan need to account for the province’s population projections and may be substantial enough to warrant an open house and public meeting, McCauley said in her report to council.

This item reprinted with permission from The Lake Report, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario