Planning Our Place in the Sun

In spite of my best intentions, I just don’t get to some public meetings. This being our short and precious summer, I’ve been more lax lately in writing for this blog as well. However I did download the display boards from the last public Open House for the Official Plan, Our Place, held at Lakeshore library branch. Here are some of the highlights, or you can review a copy of the whole presentation. (Our Place Presentation)

The consultants ask the question, “What make Our Place great?” and present information under specific topics:

Agriculture

Soil classes 1, 2 and 3 remain designated as ‘prime’ agricultural lands. Planners recommend “treating” existing ‘Non-Decision Areas’ as prime agricultural lands in the updated Official Plan.

The provincial policy statement includes “on-farm diversified uses” including home-based occupations or industries, agri-tourism, and value-added agricultural production. Provincial Draft Guidelines include related retail uses, café, cooking class, and food store.

Provincial policy requires the negative impacts of agriculture to be mitigated where it intersects with urban. Planners ask what does ‘mitigation’ mean, and how can it be achieved?

Growth Management

The population projection for 2031 is 56,000. Planners classify Cookstown, Lefroy-Belle Ewart and Sandy Cove as Urban Settlements that can accommodate more mixed uses and higher density. Stroud, Churchill, Fennell’s Corners and Guilford are considered Village Settlements.

Recommendations concerning retailing include ‘establish a department store location in Alcona; establish a ‘destination point’ in downtown Alcona; continue the momentum of [retail] development in downtown Alcona.

Innisfil Heights is identified in these documents as a “Strategic Settlement Employment Area”. This is interesting because the province did not accept the previous Official Plan over the issue of putting residential development in this area. We’ve been told that we urgently need to extend servicing to this area for employment development yet the word, Settlement, appears first. I suspect the employment argument is something of a Trojan Horse to ultimately promote greenfield residential development there as part of a ‘complete’ community. [see clarification comment below] (Barrie’s last annexation of Innisfil lands occurred under the pretext that it had ‘run out’ of employment lands.) The existing official plan included a significant employment development zone at the north end of Stroud. The current document doesn’t mention it.

This plan is based on the minimum provincial requirement for intensification – 35% of new units in built-up areas and a Designated Greenfield Area for 65% of residential unit growth. Currently, 81% of registered and draft-approved units are single or semi-detached (66%) and townhouses (15%). The plan recommends a shift to 20% townhouses and 10% apartments to meet the minimal requirement and avoid settlement boundary expansion.

Active Transportation

Planners recommend examining Active Transportation as a separate planning consideration within the Official Plan.

Place Making

The planners are separately examining the idea of “place-making” – the concept of creating vibrant, active and attractive public spaces throughout the Town. This document discusses ideas for Innisfl Beach Road, Innisfil Beach Park, Innisfil Heights, the Municipal Campus, Lefroy, Cookstown and Sandy Cove. Consultants launched a mobile app, called the Innisfil Goose Chase, earlier that lets Innisfil residents post photos to illustrate what they think makes a great place. There are 30 ‘missions’ and a Grand Prize for a lucky entrant who completes them. (This old fogey doesn’t have a smart phone so I’m out).

The Environment

The plan considers environmental legislation, ‘significant’ woodlands, wetlands, natural heritage system, and flood hazards and asks how to “balance growth with environmentally sustainable development”.

Our Place Draft Discussion Papers, under several topic areas, are available online for anyone interested in looking deeper into the issues.

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