Bruce County’s planning committee approves two-stage adoption of new Official Plan

·3 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – Bruce County’s new Official Plan (OP) review has hit some snags, in part due to unprecedented growth at a time when there were some staffing vacancies – and a pandemic.

As stated by County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, Saugeen Shores, “It’s been a five-year process, so far.”

Mark Paoli, director of planning and development, and Jack Van Dorp, manager of land use planning, presented a report on the OP review schedule.

The report outlined three options:

- maintaining the current project work plan and schedule at the risk of criticism for an inadequate level of community engagement and as a result, possible delays in the province approving the plan;

- extending the current work plan and schedule into the spring of 2023, with the risk of delays in bringing the new council up to speed; and

- approving growth management policies now and delaying approval of other elements of the plan including natural heritage and agriculture until later (the recommended option from staff).

The third option would resolve priority concerns on growth management, while providing additional time. It would allow Brockton’s Minister’s Zoning Order process to unfold, and enable local municipalities to proceed with asset management plans and local OP updates.

While the municipal election could still cause problems, the report stated “a two-phase approach that concludes in spring 2023 would likely result in a more collaborative, defensive and transparent process and product.”

Charbonneau asked if the planning department had sufficient resources to complete the OP in 2023. Paoli said the OP is at the point where much of the work can now be done by the consultants.

County Coun. Chris Peabody, Brockton, expressed concern about a number of issues including the number of people who have been told to wait until the OP is approved.

“They’re getting quite upset,” said Peabody.

Peabody is also concerned that all growth in his municipality is being funneled into Walkerton – something he believes is not fair when Brockton’s eight hamlets need to expand in size in order to maintain services and keep schools open.

Paoli commented that the matter of hamlets was addressed in the Good Growth policy paper. As for the length of time the OP is taking, he said, “I hear the frustration.”

Peabody added that his municipality has no commercial land, and that “needs to be accommodated.” He proposed Brockton representatives meet with the county’s planning staff.

Derrick Thomson, Bruce County CAO, said one of the advantages with option three was the opportunity “to reach out to the lower tiers.”

Final meeting for Paoli

The planning and development committee chair, County Coun. Steve Hammell, Arran-Elderslie, reminded council that this was the last meeting for Paoli.

He’s accepted the position of director of development services for Saugeen Shores. The director of development services leads all activities dealing with planning and building in Saugeen Shores, along with engineering services and asset management.

Paoli will start his new position on June 24.

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

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