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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

First Phase of Official Plan 5 year review is nearing completion

First Phase of Official Plan 5 year review is nearing completion

On Saturday January 28th, 2012, Meridian Planning Consultants Inc. presented their Draft Directions paper outlining 13 Guiding Principles for the new Official Plan and 34 proposed Direction Statements. The draft document is quite lengthy and can be reviewed on the Town’s web site under Planning and Development Projects. I attended this meeting and prepared a list of comments that was submitted for their review. These comments only highlight some of our concerns and we want you to provide us or Cindy Welsh at the Town (cwelsh@thebluemountains.ca) with your comments and any other concerns you may have. Remember, when completed, this will be a living document that could impact your enjoyment of life in this community (assuming you can still afford to live here).

Some Comments and Concerns Regarding the Directions Paper (exclusive of other concerns):

Residential Hierarchy:

The BMRA generally agrees that there are too many land use designations but we disagree with the statement that “they apply to the resort recreational area of the Town” (page 45). All six of the previous designations include the word “residential” and this new proposed designation “Recreational Resort Area” does not reflect the true character of our established residential neighbourhoods. First and foremost, the word “resort” is not properly defined in the document and secondly, it will encourage a lot of problems including a number of commercial and recreational activities that are not compatible with the character of established residential neighbourhoods i.e. the Town has spend over $600,000 and counting on defining and protecting our residential neighbourhoods from uncontrollable STA commercial establishments and this resort designation will continue to encourage operators to expand into our neighbourhoods. The BMRA supports protecting the quality and character of our residential neighbourhoods and retaining a “Residential” designation. We will oppose this Proposed Direction 10 to consolidate into one resort recreational designation.

Natural Areas, Features and Hazards:

With regards to new developments and significant redevelopments, the BMRA supports the Natural Heritage set-back widths recommended in the Natural Heritage Resource Manual (NHRM) prepared by the Ministry of Natural Resources and does not support the reduced standards adopted by the County. Therefore, we would oppose proposed Direction 15 adopting County standards. The County, using a limited peer review system, has shown poor judgment in approving new developments with significantly reduced set-backs that provide inadequate protection for our wetland areas. These decisions do not instill public confidence that they are acting in the best interests of the residents of the Blue Mountains.

Transportation:

We regards to Proposed Direction 23, we do not support the proposed road classifications identified in OP Amendment No. 24 and they should not be considered until a full detailed secondary or community plan has been drafted and approved for the areas impacted. We might also mentioned that it was Council, led by the Chairman of the Steering Committee, and not the residents that requested that the reclassification issue be deferred to the Town’s Official Plan Review. The residents adamantly oppose these proposed reclassifications and believe that 20 meter corridors can be designed to provide adequate “places for people”. Also, any road being proposed as a new Collector Road, must have a defined width in the document so that property owners can determine the future impacts on their property frontages and any loss in value.

Economic Development:

The Town has continuously attempted to include “Special Events” as being part of Economic Development and have tried to justify spending monies on these type of events. Will the OP Review attempt to recognize these events as contributing to tourism within the community and will land use designations be required to recognize these events and where they can be located. There is also no mention of the word “resort” in this section. The word “resort” implies potential for Economic Development or are proposed designated “recreational resort areas “ excluded from Economic Development?

Deferred Development Areas and Phasing:

Part of the BMRA mission statement is that “The Association strives to promote responsible government…… and responsible land development…”. Therefore, the BMRA considers this section as the most important one in the document. Proposed new developments must incorporate the future vision of a healthy, vibrant and sustainable community and one that also blends in with existing communities. The Secondary Planning or Community Planning process is a must, and should be implemented almost immediately in deferred development areas in order to ensure that all issues relating to transportation, servicing, parkland and open space, land use, phasing and environmental protection are dealt with at one time and not in isolation. Therefore, we support proposed Direction 32, 33 and 34.

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