Recently, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, sent a letter to Ontario municipalities concerning the supply of housing in the province. The letter also addressed the related matter of land use planning.
The letter said that the government is “reviewing the Planning Act and Provincial Policy Statement to ensure they are calibrated to achieve our streamlining and housing supply objectives.”
He then said that municipalities may want to wait until those changes are in place before embarking on any major local planning initiatives.
“I encourage you to consider the context of this streamlining work and its focus on the Planning Act and the Provincial Policy Statement, as it may help to inform your local actions. You may consider an interim pause on some planning decisions or reviews of major planning documents such as official plans or comprehensive zoning bylaw updates until this work is completed.”
Frontenac County Manager of Development Services, Joe Gallivan, said that two major initiatives in Frontenac County, the Central Frontenac Township Official Plan process, which is well underway, and the effort to improve the planning process across the county, should not be halted.
I think that, for a municipality such as Ottawa, which is starting to look at a new Official Plan, it pays to wait before spending large amounts of money on studies that will be necessary for that plan. But for Central Frontenac, I don’t think changes to the Provincial Policy Statement or the Planning Act will change things for them.”
He added that there is a lot of interest in Central Frontenac in developing Sharbot Lake as a regional hub in light of what might happen with Hwy. 7 and with VIA rail.
“The official plan renewal process has been going on for two years and, in my view, it should continue,” he said.
Frontenac County has made planning services the subject of a major internal review, under the direction of the County Manager of Continuous Improvement, Kevin Farrell. The county provides planning services to three of the four Frontenac municipalities, and has developed close ties with the planning department in South Frontenac, in recent months.
The long-anticipated initiative aims at developing a clear planning process that is consistent throughout the county, for the benefit of residents who may only deal with planning matters once, and developers as well.
“I don’t see why we should stop doing this work. We are off to a great start,” said Gallivan.
“Megan Rueckwald [Manager of Community Planning] from our office and Claire Dodds [Manager of Development Services] from South Frontenac led a meeting with all of the planning staff from the entire county recently and everyone was extremely positive about making improvements to the way planning is done in Frontenac County,” he said.
He indicated that any changes that do come from the provincial review can be incorporated into the local planning process.