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Trent Lakes to become part of County Official Plan
April 07, 2017
BY TERRY GILLIS
At the Tuesday Trent Lakes Council meeting, Council approved a motion directing Planning Technician, Amanda Warren to move forward with communications with the County of Peterborough for the preparation of the Municipalities motion to join the County Official Plan.
The Municipality of Trent Lakes’ past Strategic Plan included a goal for incorporating their Official Plan into the County Official Plan.
County planning staff recommended that the County Official Plan (OP) Review would be an opportune time to incorporate Trent Lakes into the local component of the County Official Plan should they wish to.
According to Ms. Warren’s report, the County is proposing to create a Technical Advisory Committee in which all lower tier municipalities would be involved and have input on the policies applicable to everyone. Only the townships within the local component of the County Official Plan would be involved with the development and review of local policies through a Local Component Subcommittee. Currently, Trent Lakes is not part of the Local Component. As a result of this, the Planning Technician requested that Council provide direction on whether or not to join the County Official Plan.
Trent Lakes’ own OP is scheduled for review in the next two or three years. An Official Plan review can cost upwards of $80,000. However, by incorporating the municipal plan into the county plan, there would be no need for the review, saving the municipality a fair bit of money in consulting fees, public consultations, etc. Trent Lakes’ own Official Plan will remain in effect until the County plan is approved.
The County has assured Trent Lakes staff that if council decides to join the Official Plan at the outset of the review and be involved as a local component, Council could change their mind to withdraw up to the point of adoption of the new Plan by County Council.
By becoming part of the Local Component of the County OP, Trent Lakes Council will lose some autonomy in decision making regarding the over arching policies in their Official Plan as the County planning staff and Council would have the authority to make or amend policies that apply to the Municipality of Trent Lakes. The amendment application process would shift from the local level to the County as well, resulting in less administrative work in processing applications, although the lower tier is still involved in the consultation and review of applications. Trent Lakes Council would have the opportunity to support or object to proposed policies or amendments, however the County would make the ultimate decision. This is similar to how the current Consent and Severance approval process works now. The process for Zoning By-law Amendments or Minor Variances would not change and would still be approved at the local level.
As was noted in Amanda Warren’s report, if Council opted to retain their own Official Plan, at least for now, they would not be required to review their Official Plan policies until the County review is complete and the new Official Plan is approved by MMAH. At that time, they would be required to incorporate any new or amended policies from the County and/or province and have the opportunity to review their existing policies through public consultation. Alternatively, Council could decide at that point in time to join the County Official Plan through an amendment. In this case, they would not have an opportunity to provide input into the local component redesign during the review process.
Mayor Bev Matthews said that it sounded to her like, “short term pain for long term gain.” She commented that Trent Lakes Council always wanted this to happen.
Questions surrounding the municipality’s aggregate policies were raised. However, the Planning Technician assured Council that because of the uniqueness of the municipality, Trent Lakes would still administer their own policies.
Council agreed that by not incorporating the municipal Official Plan with the County Official Plan, they would lose the opportunity to add their input prior to and during the review process.
The deciding factor for the majority of Council members was the option to opt out of the County Official Plan at any time prior to Ministry approval. If they don’t like how the plan fits the municipality, they have the option of staying with their own plan.
The motion to support the approval of a commitment to the County Official Plan was unanimous.