| Mar 27, 2019

The Queen’s University School of Urban and Regional Planning leaned towards the regional side last Friday, bringing a workshop on rural planning to St. James Major in Sharbot Lake. In particular, the workshop was focused towards North Frontenac but the content was still applicable to much of the Frontenacs.

“We were approached by citizens and representatives of the Frontenacs to address the problems North Frontenac is specifically facing,” said graduate student Alex Pysklywec. “We’re looking at land stewardship, shoreline management, services delivery and economic development.”

A total of 16 grad students broke into groups of four to address one of the above topics, presenting seminars and then having the audience participate in an exercise.

“It’s good for the students, to focus on rural themes,” said Dr. John Meligrana, the faculty member who came along with the the students. “Much of what we do is focused on larger centres, like Toronto, so it’s good to look at the challenges rural municipalities face.”

“It’s a conversation,” said grad student Stephanie Magnanelli. “We’re not trying to teach you anything, we’re not engineers or environmental experts.

“We’re planners.”

“We were hoping we could run an experimental test with planning students that would approach planning for a region that has no towns,” said Gray Merriam, who, along with Barry Gilbert, was one of the citizens who approached the school. “Land use planning in the past has come down the pipes from Queen’s Park.

“With the environment we have, we need to hear more from the people on the land, not Queen’s Park.

“In the second phase, students learn what people on the land want to see.”

Merriam said some funding was provided by the “now dead Frontenac Stewardship Foundation.

“John (Meligrana) will see how the funds are used.

“In a sense, we’re reaching back from the administrative grave, using students as a tool to achieve the goals of the Foundation (and) in the longer term have some of the flavours of the foundation left in the school.”

Two of the North Frontenac officials in attendance (although both insisted they weren’t there in any official capacity) seemed pleased with way the gathering went.

“Fred (Fowler) and I are here out of interest,” said North Frontenac Coun. John Inglis. “Finding out about the surprise Area of Natural and Scientific Interest on my property was a big issue for me, but I’m also interested in planning.”

“I’m looking for information more than anything,” said Coun. Fred Fowler. “I’m kind of interested in where these young people are coming from and the direction they’re taking.

“Can we sustain what we have or are we going to need to grow?”

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