South Algonquin Township council had a look at the second draft of their Official Plan update at their Human Resources/Administration/Public Relations committee meeting on June 20. After discussing it amongst themselves and with senior planner Forbes Symon of Jp2g Consultants Inc., (who is assisting the township with the update), they decided to clarify some items within the document, change some wording and include a revised Land Acknowledgement within the document before sending it off to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and having public consultations in September. 

A legal document under the Planning Act, South Algonquin’s Official Plan guides the growth, development and land use changes in the township and determines how the township manages issues like residential growth, housing, aggregate, agriculture, natural heritage conservation and climate change among others. It also must align with provincial requirements for land use planning as contained in the Provincial Policy Statement of 2020. 

The Official Plan needs to be updated every 10 years after it comes into effect as a new official plan and every five years thereafter, unless it’s been replaced by a new official plan. In addition to aligning with provincial interest matters in the PPS 2020, the Official Plan review also allows council and the community to have their say on this document and to make sure it addresses local priorities and community needs. 

This Official Plan review is being assisted by a professional planning firm called Jp2g Consultants Inc., which is an employee owned, multi-discipline consulting firm that provides civil, mechanical, electrical and structural engineering, land use planning, environmental services and project management. It is being done in consultation with the MMAH, who need to give the final approval for South Algonquin’s updated Official Plan. 

The township has already had two special public meetings on the first draft of the Official Plan update; on August 17, 2022 at the Township municipal office council chambers in Whitney and on August 18, 2022 at the Madawaska Complex. From these public meetings’ discussions, it was concluded that Indigenous recognition and engagement, climate change, growth management, housing (especially affordable housing) and emergency management needed to be included in the Official Plan to align with the PPS. Other issues to be addressed were economic diversification, waterfront development/redevelopment, open space/parks/recreation, hazard lands, natural heritage resources, resource mapping, general housekeeping and updated mapping.  

At the June 22 HR/PR/Admin committee meeting, the second draft of the Official Plan was discussed among council members, staff and Symon. Councillor Sandra Collins opened up the floor to any questions or comments that the committee had. The questions posed were about garden suites/granny flats, the size of lots to accommodate well and septic for development, affordable housing options, the official age of seniors as outlined in the document, clarifying “non-comforming activity” and “legal non-compliance” regarding property use, and short term rental bylaws and whether they’re mandatory under the Planning Act. Once these questions had been discussed and clarified, Symon told council that going forward they would make suggested changes to wording, clarify some items and include a revised Land Acknowledgement. From there, it will be sent off to the MMAH and a public consultation will take place in both Whitney and Madawaska in September. He emphasized that there would still be time to refine it and change wording in the interim, as it was not set in stone. Tracy Cannon, the planning and building administrator, said that she would have a resolution ready for the July 5 council meeting so the township could proceed with the public consultations.

Symon told The Bancroft Times on June 28 that they are very pleased with the direction they’ve gotten from the township council on the draft Official Plan update, and that the questions and direction provided have been very well thought out and clearly reflect a keen interest on advancing the growth and development of South Algonquin.

“As the consultant planner, I have been impressed with the quality of discussion around the council table. They have a very good understanding of planning related issues in the township. We are very supportive of the direction council is expressing in the draft Official Plan update and look forward to receiving comments from the public and government agencies on the draft Official Plan update over the coming months,” he says. “Once the review is completed, council will then consider any changes to the draft resulting from comments prior to adopting the updated Official Plan.”

By Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 13, 2023 at 11:23

This item reprinted with permission from   The Bancroft Times   Bancroft, Ontario
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