On January 15, the province released proposed changes to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, a key document that governs growth within the municipality of Kawartha Lakes.
City staff and Mayor Andy Letham have been involved in ongoing consultation with Hon. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and his staff. In August 2018, Letham and partners from Northumberland and Peterborough County led a delegation at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in Ottawa to put forward local concerns. Other meetings and discussions have taken place throughout the last several months.
“The changes signal a recognition that ‘one size does not fit all’ when it comes to growth planning and density levels. It’s encouraging that the proposed changes are designed to allow more flexibility in local decision-making.” commented Richard Holy, manager of planning with Kawartha Lakes.
Earlier this week, Letham and planning staff at the City of Kawartha Lakes received calls from the province advising that the changes were being circulated for a 45-day comment period, and that the voice of rural Ontario, including Kawartha Lakes, had been heard and incorporated.
“The proposed changes in the Ontario Smart Growth Plan are a clear example of how the provincial government is listening and responding to concerns that we have voiced, along with other rural municipalities. It is evident that the desire to grow and be open for business, at the right pace and in the right places, is a priority of the province. We are very pleased with the level of open communication we’ve experienced on this issue,” commented Letham.
Of the proposed changes, the most significant are focused on intensification and greenfield development. A greenfield area is a large parcel of undeveloped land on the outskirts of a developed area. The recognition that “one-size does not fit all” allows for local input on the character of our communities. The relaxed standards would mean that Kawartha Lakes can continue to maintain its existing intensification target of 30 per cent rather than increasing to 60 per cent. The City can also maintain its greenfield area density target of 40 residents and jobs per hectare rather than potentially increasing to 80 residents and jobs per hectare.
These changes are very positive and should help implement the Secondary Plans for Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls, Omemee and Woodville more quickly.
Additional proposed changes that affect Kawartha Lakes positively include:
- A one-time window to allow municipalities to undertake some employment land conversions before their next official plan review
- Reducing the number and types of studies required for location of settlement area boundary expansions
- Ability to adjust settlement area boundaries outside the official plan review if there is no net increase in land within settlement areas
- A new policy that allows minor rounding out of rural settlements in keeping with the rural character of the area, and subject to other criteria
- Implementation of provincial agricultural land base and Natural Heritage System mapping through an official plan review with local refinement
“We welcome the proposed changes to the Ontario Smart Growth Plan that will give us the flexibility we need to attract jobs and responsible development in a way that works for Kawartha Lakes,” said Letham.
The City will be providing comments on proposed changes to the Province by February 28.