The Town of Innisfil is embarking on a lengthy consultation process to develop a new Official Plan (OP) to be known as “Our Place”. The Planning Act requires a review at least every 5 years. The last one completed in 2006 received partial approvals from the OMB between 2009 and 2011.
The goal is to define planning principles and policies that will guide the physical growth of Innisfil over the next 20 years. Initial discussions and public input will be used to develop “policy directions”, followed by draft Official Plan amendments. The consultants at Sorensen Gravely Lowes Planning Associates (SGL) have been retained to conduct the four-stage consultation and Official Plan development, which is expected to take about 18 months.
The project started with interviews with Council members. Similar interviews are also being conducted with “key stakeholders”. These are community associations, environmental groups, farmers, developers, retailers and businesses.
Innisfil residents are encouraged to learn more about how they can participate by visiting the Our Place website. Those who may not be able to attend events in person will be able to contribute their views through the interactive website, social media and online surveys. To reach as many residents as possible, consultants plan to stage several “pop-up workshops” at community events and various locations.
The first major event is a one-day workshop, “Community Visioning Day”, being held on Saturday, March 28 at the Town Hall from 9:30 to 3:00 pm. Participation is free but registration is required and a lunch is provided.
This year will also see updated reports of the strategic plan, Inspiring Innisfil, and Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan. Meanwhile Simcoe County’s Official Plan was adopted in 2008 but has yet to receive provincial approval. And at the provincial level, Places to Grow is due for a 10th year review. Over the next two years, our planning principles and goals for Innisfil and the entire region will be under the microscope.
By 2017 we’re supposed to come out the other end with an Official Plan for a “more balanced and complete community that provides greater opportunities to live, work, shop and play.” May it be so! You may not normally give land use planning a lot of thought but residents should keep an eye and ear on this process as it develops.