Essex Admin, consultant to undertake public engagement to review Parkland Dedication By-Law

Council moved to allow Essex’s Administration, with the assistance of Watson & Associates Economists Ltd., to undertake public engagement to review the draft Parkland Dedication By-Law.

This would regulate the dedication of parkland or the payment-in-lieu thereof, as a condition of the development, or redevelopment, to implement the changes made by Bill 23.

For the past year-and-a-half, the Town’s Community Services Department has undertaken a Parkland Dedication Study, Jake Morassut, Director of Community Services, explained.

The Report to Council notes the dedication of parkland is a requirement under the Planning Act that allows municipalities to ensure that the park system grows at the same rate as the development of the community.

The Planning Act authorizes municipalities to prepare and adopt a Parkland Dedication By-law to impose conditions on development and redevelopment to receive parkland or payment-in-lieu of parkland, it adds.

With the discounts from Bill 23 on revenue tools, like Development Charges, higher pressure is put on the taxpayer. “Maximizing recovery of Parkland Dedication minimizes the impact on the taxpayer,” Daryl Abbs, from Watson & Associates, explained. “If you are going to impose the [maximization] of Parkland Recovery, you need a Parkland Dedication By-Law to impose those conditions.”

He presented a draft Parkland dedication By-Law to Council, which will be brought back to Council for consideration at a later date.

He said most of the County is currently undergoing this review.

As part of the memorandum presented to Council, Abbs said they have taken a look at the Town’s current inventory and what is the service level identified in the Official Plan at the end of 2031 to see if the service level can be achieved.

What was discovered was that the Town has around 208 acres of parkland. If the Official Plan standard of 6.2-acres per thousand is applied, only 137 acres would be needed.

Essex’s Official Plan notes that Parkland Dedication may be required at the rates of 5% for residential development and 2% for commercial and industrial development. There is no mention of the alternative residential rate, or for dedication to be received from institutional development.

It also notes that the Town may accept payment-in- lieu of parkland dedication.

It is hoped to bring the By-Law before Council in April.

Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy doesn’t want to rush this matter. She wants this document to work for the Town and development community.

Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Essex Free Press