Bruce County discusses changes to processing Official Plan amendments

·2 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – Bruce County’s executive committee discussed an item pertaining to the Official Plan (OP) amendment bylaws.

Timing has become a key issue with planning matters. A report presented at the meeting stated that staff continues to “look for opportunities to improve the land use planning review and decision-making process.”

The Planning Act outlines expected timeframes for decisions on applications. Should council not make a decision on an OP amendment application within 90 days, the applicant may appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal for a decision. If there is a related zoning amendment, the local council has 120 days after the complete application has been received to render a decision.

Bill 109 will require municipalities to issue partial refunds of fees for zoning amendments if decisions are delayed beyond these timeframes, for applications received after April 1, 2023.

The report presented to the committee explained that passing of a bylaw – or refusal to pass the bylaw – typically occurs at the next session of county council, two to three weeks after the public meeting at the planning and development committee meeting.

What staff is looking at is an opportunity to pass a bylaw on the same day as the committee meeting, which would reduce the processing time for an OP amendment by 14-21 days. It would further allow linked applications to local councils to be decided more quickly.

The report to the committee noted councils of Brockton, Kincardine and South Bruce routinely pass bylaws on planning applications the same day as the public meeting. At the county level, decisions to approve disputed subdivisions, local OP amendments and consents as action items are acted upon the same day they are considered by the committee.

Staff could defer any outstanding matters to a later meeting.

County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, Saugeen Shores, suggested “we could just convene as council and pass bylaws at the same time.”

Charbonneau took things a step further and suggested the option of “looking at eliminating all the committees … our process is cumbersome.” He referred to calling the roll seven times “when we’re all sitting here.”

CAO Derrick Thomson agreed “it would be a good idea to look at a Committee of the Whole system.”

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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