Limiting Public Involvement
A chart outlining the subdivision/condominium approval process for was presented at the August Council meeting.
What stood out was the lack of public engagement in the process: a lack particularly shocking because this Council had spent a significant amount of time passing a bylaw to improve public notification and opportunities for the public to have their say.
When the County took over the approval process for subdivisions and condominiums, South Frontenac Council asked the County to use our public notification regulations for all proposals in South Frontenac. The County rejected our proposal. County staff say they are working on their own guidelines.
The proposed approval process is a significant step backwards on public engagement and input. South Frontenac residents must now present their concerns to a County committee dominated by residents from outside of South Frontenac, and they will only be given two weeks notice before the official public meeting. There is also a vague reference to notification when the complete application is submitted to the County.
Most in the community will now only hear the sounds of silence on proposed subdivisions and condominiums.
To Improve the process Township Council approved a motion that a public notification be sent out when the initial subdivision concept is presented to the Township. A more formal notice, with a large road sign at the development site will be placed when the full application is verified by the County. And, a further notice, with opportunities for delegations to Township Council, will be given before Council makes its final recommendations to the County. While this is not perfect, it makes the best of a tight County timeline.
The most useful step would be for the Township to take over the approval process: a project for the next couple of years.
A Success – 40-foot Lots Not Supported by Staff
The Shield Shores condominium proposal on Dog Lake proposed back lots with 40 feet of water access frontage. The proposal is contrary to the intent of our Official Plan and zoning bylaws which calls for water front lots having 300-foot frontage.
Many people and lake associations expressed their concerns about this proposal to the Township and County. Township planning staff recommend that these private rights of way to the lake should not be allowed.
The County still has to make a decision on the Shield Shores proposal. If you would like to express your concerns about the 40-foot private access points send your comments to:
Ron Higgins, Mayor of North Frontenac and Chair of the County’s Planning Advisory Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org, and
Joe Gallivan, Director Planning, email@example.com.
Rushing Development Misses Important Problem
Council was unable to make recommendations to the County on the Shield Shores subdivision because, on the day before the proposals were to be considered, our staff determined that the shoreline is a shallow water body. Developments on shallow water bodies have stricter conditions. Neither the developer nor the County had investigated this fact that was raised at the public meeting. Congratulations to our staff on following up.
The oversite is emblematic of a process that separates the approval process, in our case the County, from the Township staff that does the work and the community most affected. Again, it is necessary to bring the approval for larger developments under Township control.
Back Lot Development?
Many people have raised the fact that the condominium proposal includes back lots. Other condos and subdivisions have also had similar back lot development.
The Township Official plan also does support back lot development: (section 5.7.7 ii c)
“no development shall be permitted on existing private roads or extensions thereto which would have the effect of creating new lots without water frontage on a private road which services primarily waterfront residential developments (i.e. no back-lot development).”
There is some confusion because this clause is in the section on severances and not in the sections on Condominiums and subdivisions. The advanced state of the Shield Shores proposal makes any objection on this point difficult, but this concern has merit.
Council needs to be more vigilant on future developments, and, more importantly, changes are needed to the Official Plan to make the prohibition on back lots clear.
A Well Used Point
The redevelopment of the Point Park is finished and wonderful. It was also well used, with Canada Day, the Triathlon, the Lakes and Trails Festival and a Sydenham Canoe Club regatta all drawing large crowds. Many thinks to all the volunteers, participants and staff who made these events a success.
Bedford Road Construction
Council has approved a 1.5-million-dollar contract to reconstruct Bedford Road from the Sydenham dam to Alton road. Construction will start this fall and finish next July.