Bruce County looks at changing the way it handles lot creation

·3 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – Council’s planning committee dealt with three matters during the March 18 meeting that, in a way, served to illustrate why the county is looking at delegating lot creation responsibilities to local councils.

The first was a severance application for a 1.1-acre lot from a 21-acre parcel at the south end of Port Elgin. Although staff recommended the application be refused, the committee decided otherwise and approved it.

The second item was creation of a new residential waterfront lot in Wiarton.

The third matter was an Official Plan amendment for a .36-acre parcel of land in Kincardine, to permit eight townhouse dwelling units. The parcel is located on Golf Links Road, just west of Queen Street.

Committee members noted that all three matters were local in nature. It is unlikely people outside the municipality would be familiar with the respective properties.

Mark Paoli, director of planning and development, presented a report on delegating lot creation responsibilities to local councils. His recommendation was that local municipalities should be canvassed to determine if they have an interest in accepting lot creation responsibilities.

At present, the county has responsibility for approving undisputed lot creation applications; the county has delegated that responsibility to staff except for disputed applications. Approximately 90 per cent of lot creation decisions are made by county staff.

This has been the situation with most counties since the mid-1990s. There have been changes in some counties since then.

Paoli said in his report that delegating disputed applications to a local council while continuing to delegate undisputed applications to county staff is not possible at present under the Planning Act. This means a local council would have to put decision-making processes in place for all applications for which it accepts responsibility. They could choose to make decisions at council, form a committee of council to make such decisions, and/or delegate certain decisions to an appointed officer.

There are precedents – Paoli included in his report information on the Simcoe County bylaw and agreement with Springwater Township.

County Coun. Chris Peabody, mayor of Brockton, said decisions (such as the three that came before the committee that day) should be delegated to the municipality.

County Coun. Anne Eadie, mayor of Kincardine, commented that she knew the piece of land at the south end of Port Elgin that was discussed during the meeting, but was less familiar with the others.

As County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, mayor of Saugeen Shores noted, the report on the lot would still be done by county staff; it’s the decision-making that would be delegated, should municipalities express interest in that responsibility.

Paoli said the plan now is to speak to each municipality and bring the information back to county council.

“Each municipality would have to decide how they would want to do it,” he said, “at the council table, by a land division committee or by staff.”

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