The important debates of the last few months are working towards resolution.
A Planning-Development Coordinator
Council has been grappling with some big planning issues:
- Should South Frontenac have final approval for subdivision and condominium development?
- How do we enforce the conditions placed on developments like Johnson’s Point?
- How do we make the development process as transparent and seamless as possible?
- How do we ensure meaningful resident consultation in the planning and development process?
Most answers to these questions involve more staff time. One solution, which Council is slowly working towards, is to hire a planning-development manager/coordinator. The Corporate Services Committee had a good discussion on the issue last month and will be bringing forward a recommendation to the August council meeting.
Final Authority for Subdivision Approvals
Two benefits of the Township having final approval for subdivision and condominium developments are:
- Unifying zoning changes and planning approvals should reduce cost and waste. The Township is responsible for subdivision zoning changes: the County is responsible for the planning approvals. We are currently paying both planning departments to review each proposal when ony one process is needed.
- Recent changes to the provincial Planning Act will make South Frontenac residents appeal their concerns about developments to a small committee appointed by County Council. Most members of the County’s Planning Committee will be from the other Frontenac Townships. Leaving planning approvals with the County makes development a more technocratic process which strongly favours big developers. Unifying planning and zoning approvals in the Township will keep our public planning meetings in the Township. Residents will have increased access. It will increase democratic involvement.
The issue will likely be coming back to Council on August 2 for a review of the previous decision to take control of final planning approvals in 2019.
On June 7, Council passed two amendments to zoning bylaws 5.10.2 and 5.11: two sections concerning development within 30 meters of water bodies. Details can be found in my June 17 post.
Section 5.10.2 has been one of the cornerstones of the Township’s lake protection policy since our first official plan was passed in 2003. In essence, the 30 meter setback creates a zone of influence around lakes where sound environmental stewardship and community development goals can be enforced.
The 30 meters zone helps with two concerns for lake quality:
1) Controlling excess runoff from shorelines which is a significant source of nutrients in lakes; and,
2) Promoting healthy biodiversity in lakes, an important lake quality ingredient. 90% of the species in the lakes use the shoreline at some point in their life cycle.
Maintaining these protections is particularly important with the encroachment of invasive species and the presence of blue green algae blooms last year in the Rideau Lakes.
Sections 5.10.2 and 5.11 have been in place for 13 years and worked fairly well. Without them there could be a general free-for-all in lake front development. Most residents don’t want this. It would be bad for the Township, property values and environmental health.
A new educational booklet has been produced by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority on blue green algae identification and prevention. The booklet can be read on line or, if you wish a hard copy, please contact me.
Compulsory Septic inspection?
Another concern for lake protection is ensuring proper functioning septic tanks. A report on options for compulsory septic inspection was presented to the Committee of the Whole on November 24, 2015, item b. The alternatives presented were costly, over a million dollars, and would take many years to complete. We are currently waiting to hire a Chief Building Official to hear from other Townships about the programs they run. Septic inspection is still an active item on Council’s agenda.
Public Budget Input
Council has designated a special meeting, after the 2017 draft budget has been released, and before Council votes, for community input. All community members are encouraged to come and say what they think the Township should be funding, what proposed expenses make no sense, or how the Township can to improve its money management. The community input meeting is scheduled for November 8, at 7pm in the Council Chambers.
I would like to know your opinion on any of the above issues as well as any other concerns you may have. Please give me a call, 613-532-7846, or send me an email.
Enjoy your summer, keep cool.