Timing of new Provincial Policy Statement impacts Bruce County’s Official Plan implementation timeline

·2 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – The timing of the release of the draft Provincial Policy Statement throws the county’s plans for meetings on its new Official Plan into question.

The planning and development committee approved an amended recommendation to revise the public engagement timeline for the Official Plan, once additional information is available from the province on the new PPS and the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) posting on Natural Heritage policies.

Claire Dodds, director of planning and development, told the planning committee that staff were going through the draft PPS and will be bringing back more detailed information.

She noted the province is “taking time to review Natural Heritage.”

While the county awaits additional information from the province, staff will continue working on the county’s OP. However, a revised public consultation timeline is in order.

County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, Saugeen Shores, commented that the county will submit comments prior to June 5.

“I hope this time they (the province) keep it live for the full 60 days instead of cutting it in half,” he said. “Give us the 60 days; I hope they do that.”

County Coun. Kenneth Craig, Kincardine, expressed concern about “the increase in residential opportunities” that seems to be at odds with agricultural policies geared to larger parcels of land.

Dodds said some of the changes in agricultural policy were “largely unexpected” and are “causing significant concern… from groups right across the province” in the agricultural industry.

“Those were pieces that took me by surprise,” she commented.

She wasn’t alone in that. Committee chair Steve Hammell said his “social media just blew up… my agricultural colleagues, a lot of them have opinions and were just in shock about the potential changes that could be coming. There’s a lot of concern across the province.”

Subsequent discussion centred on a suggestion by County Coun. Don Murray, Huron-Kinloss, that agriculture be specifically mentioned in council’s decision. He said he expects there’ll be a lot of changes to agriculture.

Coun. Milt McIver, Northern Bruce Peninsula, said he thought including it would be a good idea.

Dodds suggested a slight change to the recommendation that feedback be provided on the agricultural policies.

Murray stressed the need to “keep agriculture at the forefront.”

Charbonneau and Craig both said there are a number of items in the draft PPS they’d like comments on.

The motion for the revised timeline carried, with an amendment adding a call for staff to provide comments on the PPS.

The matter will be returning to council in May.

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