Official Plan Rework
Councillors McDougall, Revill and I introduced a proposal for a forward-looking, community wide review of our Official Plan.
The Official Plan (OP) outlines what development can take place where. Of all the decisions that Council makes the OP probably has the most impact on how our community will look in 20 years.
Many residents have problems with our current OP.
Some issues that have been identified are:
- The current OP allows residential development on most rural lands if two acer lots can be created and water found.
- A wide range of industrial and commercial activities are allowed at most locations in both hamlets and rural areas.
- Significant residential development, with some restrictions, is allowed as a matter of right close to many lakes and within 120 meters of provincially significant wetlands.
- Currently, there is very little difference in the development allowed in hamlets and in rural areas. The boundaries and number of hamlets has also been questioned.
Council has asked staff to report by the end of June on how to implement our proposal. The process will be lengthy, but it is central to a well-functioning and livable Township. Our proposal can be found in the in the agenda for the April 19 Council .
The Organizational Review
A recent Township organizational review found that our senior staff spend almost all of their time on day to day problems and little on long range planning. It recommended hiring seven new staff. The review can be found in the April 12 Committee of the Whole agenda.
The organizational review also agreed with a common complaint of residents that the Township does not have an effective communication policy. People often do not know when Council is considering an issue until it is too late.
The job of communicating is especially important in our Township because many of our property owners are away for extended periods of time and we cover a large geographic area.
To increase our ability to communicate by email and other social media we will need some staff time dedicated to this job.
Similarly we have had many planning issues over the last year. If the Township wants to play a more central role in controlling development, and rely less on the County, we will need more planning staff.
The review also identified that our fire services “need additional capacity to deliver on service level requirements” and recommended hiring a full-time fire prevention and education officer.
The Review recommended fewer Council meetings and the elimination of Committee of the Whole. While there may be some merit in this approach frequent meetings provide good access for residents to the entire Council. Any changes should make Council more accessible, not less.
Council and senior staff are going to meet on May 4 to review the report’s recommendations.
Growing the local food industry has been a focus over the past six months and is one of the main pillars of the Frontenac County Economic Development plan.
Our most recent get-together included a tour of the Sun Harvest Green houses, Sonset Farm near Inverary, the Limestone Creamery and the 700 acer Samsung Unity Road solar farm. Previous trips visited Patch Work Gardens near Battersea, and the Two Rivers Food Hub in Smiths Falls.
Lots is happening. Agriculture is our fastest growing economic activity. How can we help?
Using our Official Plan we can relieve some of the development pressure on rural lands. We can recognize that class 4 and 5 lands also play an important role, especially to more organic farms, in grazing and hay production. And we need to celebrate that there are young, exciting and innovative farmers who want to farm. We should be encouraging their efforts in every way possible.
30 Meter Water Buffer
On May 10 Council will continue with public delegations on non-complying structures within 30 meters of the water. See my March 29th post for introductory comments on the issue.
The Point Park
Sydenham’s revitalized Point Park is re-opening on the May long weekend. Come out and celebrate one of the Township’s jewels.