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Reimagining our town together

July 10, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Sandy Brown

The time to get involved in how Orangeville will evolve, improve and grow is now! As part of our regular business, the Town has started the initial steps and discovery phases to review key planning documents, including the Official Plan and the Tourism Strategy & Action Plan, and this is your opportunity to share your thoughts, voice your concerns, ask questions and offer suggestions. 

Official Plan Review: This week a virtual public meeting was held to introduce Orangeville’s Official Plan review process. The Official Plan (OP) guides the land use and development while ensuring that Orangeville grows in a way that reflects the community and character of our Town.  Do we want to address winter parking? Do we want to maintain a “small-town charm”? What are our environmental priorities? The review process is an opportunity to ensure the Official Plan continues to address local priorities and changing community needs. 

Council reviews and updates the OP every 5 years or so to ensure that it is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) which includes Ontario More Homes, More Choice: Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan that recently came in to effect. The goals of the most recent changes include:  encouraging an increase in the mix and supply of housing; protecting the environment and public safety; reducing barriers and costs for development and provide greater certainty; supporting the economy and job creation and reviewing public transit and active transportation. 

After council adopts any changes, the plan is then submitted to the County for further review. Official plans for upper-tier municipalities (Dufferin County) deal with broad planning issues that affect all municipalities, while all lower-tier (Orangeville) Official Plans and Zoning Bylaws must conform to the upper-tier plan. 

Once an Official Plan Review is finalized, it guides all of the municipality’s planning decisions.

Get involved: You can take part in planning the future of your community by: finding out as much as you can about the current and proposed official plan on the Orangeville website; thinking about how the plan might affect you, your property and your community; contacting or making a written submission to Council or Brandon Ward, Manager Planning, Infrastructure Services; attending and asking questions at future information sessions, open houses and public meetings that are held to discuss the plan. 

Your involvement enriches this vital information gathering stage we are in and is appreciated by members of council. I encourage you to get involved early in the process. Council will then have time to research, ask questions and discuss your ideas during this process and before any changes are adopted. 

Council continues to meet virtually: Orangeville Council continues to meet virtually – the meetings are live-streamed on YouTube. Members of the public can still participate by emailing or calling in your questions. Information regarding participation is available on the Town’s website at www.orangeville.ca.

Emergency relief measures have been extended throughout the summer. There will be no penalties or interest charged on late tax payments or hydro and water bills until the fall. Orangeville Transit will also continue to provide free services during this time. A full list of all COVID related relief programs are available on the Town website. 

Open Orangeville is a three-phased recovery plan for local businesses.   The Town has been successfully re-opening with guidance from health professionals. These efforts have been supported by our economic development team, who have been working closely with the business community. 

Taking a Closer Look at Tourism: The local boost to our economy from tourism is significant, and the Town has already identified promoting and developing our regional tourism assets as a key priority. We are focusing on making significant gains by showcasing our strengths – an abundance of outdoor trails, spaces and features. 

Tourism provides two areas of increased revenue. First, the money visitors spend on a festival or event but also additional spending on food, in local shops and more. In addition to the spending, employment statistics show an above-average rise in accommodation and food services positions, and the arts and culture sectors thrive with the support from tourism spending. 

In 2019, Council supported working with local businesses, festival organizers, community and service groups to create a new multi-year tourism strategy and create a booming local tourism industry. This work continued with a virtual public meeting this week, hosted by consultants Bannikin Travel & Tourism.  

We need to look at unique ideas to get this Town moving again, so we are ready to run when the time is appropriate. We can also take this time to carefully consider what makes Orangeville a great place to visit and to think strategically about what type of visitors we want to attract.

Many ideas were discussed, including creating full-day trip itineraries for visitors, sports tournament opportunities, closing the Downtown for designated pedestrian shopping days and creating a Central Town Square. While only some of the ideas presented will actually turn into projects, no actions will be taken without consultation with key stakeholders and seeking public input. We need to plan on being ready as the economy opens, but we must remain agile and fiscally cautious during these uncertain times. 

There are many opportunities to get involved and make sure your voice is heard. This Council is listening – reach out to myself or any member of council with your ideas!



         

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