OP, PPS, and Docks

Official Plan Public Input Starts

The first public meeting on the new Official Plan (OP) was poorly attended.  There are two more meeting, please come and tell the Township staff what kind of community you want South Frontenac to be.  Your comments will be reflected in the first draft they produce.

Some issues that will be considered are:  the natural environment, affordable housing, climate change action, bigger but fewer hamlets, agricultural lands, more rural lots, more communal services, and commercial and industrial development.

There are two more meetings: have your say:

There is also an online survey on what kind of Township you want in 20 years. Please fill it in: https://www.southfrontenac.net/en/open-for-business/official-plan.aspx

Provincial Policy Statement Changes

The province has drafted changes to the Provincial Policy Statements (PPS).  These documents outline how development will take place in the province.  Municipalities must work within these guidelines.  They are important.

The PPSs cover: healthy communities, resource management and public health and safety.

While there maybe other significant changes three stood out to me:

1. Under the proposed changes, companies developing an aggregate mine could use rehabilitation measures to argue that the project will have no negative impact on the environment.

This seems to allow an aggregate operator to develop a quarry in an environmentally sensitive area or on prime agricultural land as long as they have a plan to rehabilitate the area when the operation closes.  In other words, companies would be able to dig up a sensitive area, strip the soil, remove the aggregate, and, in the future, replant and argue that there has been no negative impact on the land.

This proposed change would have significant short-term and long-term negative impacts, but it is nonetheless the proposal

2. In a variety of places, the proposed PPS mandates that municipalities develop plans to adapt to climate change. Only once does it mention that actions may be taken to lesson climate change.  It also has a separate section protecting petroleum extraction which could be read to include fracking.

The documents accept that there will be significant changes in the climate, but do not encourage action to lesson the damage from climate change.  This is the “pound of cure is better than an ounce of prevention” strategy. It is neither financially nor environmentally sustainable.

3. The document encourages rural areas to develop communal services, like water and sewer systems. Preference is given to private systems where municipal ones are not “available, planned or feasible”; and feasibility includes a municipalities willingness to pay.

For instance, in a new subdivision or rural land condominium developers would be encouraged to install a private communal water and sewer system.

A few problems immediately come to mind.

  1. It is more expensive for private developers than governments to access capital to develop these systems leading to higher housing prices.
  2. If you had a couple of developers is an area, say around Inverary or Harrowsmith, the services would have different owners and possibly use different technologies making it harder, that is more expensive, to develop a broader community system when that is needed.
  3. As the law currently stands, if any of these private systems fail, the Township is obligated to take them over. The Township’s ultimate liability can be lessened by regulations, covenants, and deposits. All of these require monitoring, and potential legal action, all of which involves more cost above what would be incurred with a municipal system.  And none of which remove the Township’s ultimate liability.

Please read the proposed PPSs on line and comment.  There maybe other sections you find positive or concerning.

Encroachment on Public Lands: Docks

The Township’s Development Services Committee is considering a public land encroachment policy.

Historically, on a case by case basis, private individuals have been allowed to develop on pubic property.  The immediate issue sparking this discussion on whether we need a more uniform approach is the use of the Desert Lake causeway by private, unsanctioned, docks.

The initial discussion focused on a general principle that public lands should be protected for public uses.

When a strong argument can be made, like access to a lot, or historic use of docks for a commercial business, Council could consider granting a long-term lease for encroachment on public land.

 

About Ross Sutherland

nurse, researcher, public health care activist, councillor South Frontenac Township
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