A Plan is Better than No Plan?

August saw progress in two Township planning initiatives: the Recreational Master Plan and the new Official Plan. Both are at mid points in their development and now the heavy lifting, that is actual policy development, starts.

The Recreational Master Plan

The consultants hired to develop the Recreational Master Plan, a plan for the Township’s recreational facilities and activities, collected information from: an online survey of community members; a survey of business and community organizations; stakeholder interviews and focus groups; a random telephone survey of 300 residents; and a small number of individual submissions.

The information gathered was presented to the Recreation Committee in a Community Consultation Report.  As interesting as the report was, and it contained many, many ideas, there was no attempt to summarizes, collate and prioritize the results, so it is a long read. Nonetheless, this back ground information is important to validate the next step, summarizing the data and producing draft recommendations.

Recreation Background Documents

If you are interested in Township recreational programs and facilities, please look at this report for a wide range of community generated proposals for future development. If you have any initial comments, please pass them along.

One small point methodological stood out to me.  41% of the online survey were long-time residents of the Township compared with 51% in the random telephone poll.  The online survey also had significantly different numbers of people who had lived here 1-5 years (20% compared to 5% in the random poll).

Place of residence also varied significantly.  In the online poll many more were from Sydenham (36% vs 26% random) and Perth Road (9% vs 2% random) and Verona had a stronger representation in the random poling (19% compared to 10%).  I asked that the consultant to consider these variations when they make their recommendations.

The New Official Plan

The four virtual community consolations in August on the new Official Plan consisted of a short presentation followed by a series of questions that the participants could vote on. The session I attended had 29 participants with about 20 voting on each question. The questions are online for a few more weeks and you can vote your choices by going to:  https://engagefrontenac.ca/official-plan-review-south-frontenac-2040?tool=survey_tool#tool_tab.

The questions cover different aspects of housing, economic development, lake ecosystems and agriculture. One problem with surveys of this type is that they limit the nuance in many questions. For instance, the answer could be mostly ‘yes’ but there are situations where a ‘no’ would be more appropriate. If you have qualifications to any of your answers, please submit them in writing to: officialplan@southfrontenac.net.

One issue with the questions was a limiting bias in the housing development question. The question asking if the majority the majority of housing should be in hamlets suggests 60% as a possible figure.  In the back ground information to the questions it was reported that open house attendees before COVID supported 72% in hamlets and the rest in rural areas and on waterfront.

A different interpretation is that 72% supported most development in hamlets, say 90% while the other 28% supported more housing in rural areas or on waterfront.  There are two questions: do we support more housing in hamlets, I think the answer is yes. Then how much should go there? This question is not being asked.

Preserving waterfront and agricultural lands means most, close to all housing, needs to go into hamlets.  We have historically overbuilt on farm lands and along water ways to the detriment of both.  Concentrating growth in hamlets is also creates strong, vibrant hamlets, makes communities more livable for all ages, and reduces carbon emissions. I hope those working on the new Official Plan recognize the benefits of most new housing going into hamlets.

A Cat Trail Funding Plan

Cataraqui Conservation will be approaching municipalities along the Cataraqui Trail to develop a sustainable funding plan to keep the trail open and safe.  These discussions will take place over the next year. The Cat Trail is enjoyed by many South Frontenac residents and is a reason often sited for people moving here or visiting.

Recreation Background Documents

The Federal Election

This report is written in the midst of a federal election which will significantly impacts on South Frontenac.  Issues requiring strong federal leadership, like the climate crisis, the ongoing and future pandemics, and growing inequality are negatively affecting our community.  I encourage everyone to be involved, and critically look at the options presented. For example, stepping back from strong action on climate change will significantly and negatively alter our future and increase the costs and livability of the Township.

About Ross Sutherland

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