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County passes draft Official Plan

September 17, 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Tabitha Wells – In just a few short months, members of Dufferin County Council went from complete opposition to enacting a county Official Plan mandated by the Province, to having a fully completed draft, ready for approval from officials at Queen’s Park.

The change of perspective, according to Orangeville Mayor Rob Adams, came from the Province’s willingness to work with and accommodate concerns raised by the municipalities across Dufferin.

“Part of the issue was that the ministry had really laid down the law and was just going full steam ahead,” said Mayor Adams. “I think through the negotiations they realized that this is a very unique county, and have been willing to make some compromises with all the municipalities, and that has made the difference.”

While the County Official Plan is new to Dufferin, it is not a new concept. Dufferin is one of the last counties to employ an Official Plan, which was why the Province was so adamant in pushing the agenda forward.

The County Official Plan is a document established under the Planning Act and signed off on by the Province, and is designed to provide goals, objectives and policies that help to manage and direct land use and changes within the community. It provides an over-arching direction for policies on matters that have significant effect on the County, and gives a common voice for the eight municipalities across Dufferin.

One of the reasons County officials were against the County OP was because policies that have been in place for as long as Dufferin has existed have worked over the years, and there were fears that the OP took away the power from municipalities to proceed with matters of growth and land use directly related to them.

“One of the issues we were concerned about was the delegated authority, which is the town’s ability to make zones and amendments on our own,” said Mayor Adams. “That’s a responsibility we’ve had for many years, and I’m delighted that our tough negotiations have paid off, as the Minister has given full indication he will pass legislation that would give us that ability.”

Currently, the power of delegation has only been given to Orangeville and Mono, as  the two largest municipalities in Dufferin. While concerns have been raised about whether that would cause issues for other municipalities, council seemed to be on board with the results.

The plan also includes a Growth Management Strategy, which includes population and employment forecasts for the County, as well as breakdowns for each municipality. The goal of this portion of the OP is to provide the basis for a growth management framework and policy directions over the next twenty years.

Included in the growth strategy are numbers surrounding what kind of economical growth the municipalities should see in conjunction with population growth, as well as water, electricity and other amenity usage growth in the towns.

“There was definitely a lot of concern around the proposed growth numbers,” said Mayor Adams. “It continued to be a sticking point, but the Province was willing to work with us to find a reasonable solution. With that done, it will open the door for our municipalities to support planning.”

In August, County Council hosted a public meeting to discuss the particulars of the plan and address any concerns from the public. While several stakeholders spoke and thanked county for ensuring the plan protected and helped around the issues that faced them, no one from the public took advantage of the opportunity to speak up.

Last Thursday (September 11), County Council met and discussed the final draft of the plan, voting to send it to the Province for final approval and adoption of the plan.

“These have been tough negotiations with all the parties involved, but it will be good and county planning will move forward,” said Mayor Adams. “All negotiations are tough, but in the end if you have people who are fair and reasonable, and are willing to work together to find a solution, you are able to reach that solution.”

For more information on the County Official Plan, or to view the submitted plan, visit www.dufferincounty.ca/planning.

         

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