My last post summarized some of the policy options contained in the Draft Policy Directions Report for PlaceMaking in Innisfil. Other important areas are discussed as well and I thought my readers might appreciate a continuation of this brief overview of policy options and recommendations that will shape our future and the character of Innisfil. The really curious can download and explore more than 60 pages of the actual report. ((Draft Policy Directions Report – Innisfil)
Here we look at approaches to: connected communities; transit; future GO Hub; agriculture-related uses and scale; on-farm diversified uses; other rural lands; non-decision & ‘special rural’ designation; countryside character; natural heritage systems; protecting tree canopy; and shoreline protection:
The report recommends identifying key Innisfil destinations in the Official Plan. It goes on to say that improvements recommended in the Master Transportation Plan “will need to be incorporated into Schedule C of the Official Plan.” These include:
- The relocation of the Potential Future Interchange at Highway 400 from the 5th Line to the 6th Line
- Improvements to specific intersections, particularly along Yonge Street;
- Road improvements to facilitate improved linkages between Friday Harbour, Sandy Cove, Alcona and Lefroy – Belle Ewart to Yonge Street
- A by-pass either to the north or south of Cookstown
- The realignment of 20th Sideroad at the intersection of Innisfil Beach Road, on the west side of Alcona
- Conceptual short-term local transit network
- Traffic calming to slow down traffic and enhance the safety of pedestrians and cyclists which could include special pavers at crosswalks, bump-outs to reduce the width of lanes at intersections, and speed bumps to reduce speed in heavy pedestrian-travelled areas;
- Use of roundabouts rather than traditional traffic light intersections to keeping traffic flow moving while reducing potential for accidents.
The report discusses the importance of a long-term transit strategy in the Official Plan to “reinforce the importance of planning for intensification along transit corridors …. This transit strategy could be completed in line with the County’s Transit Feasibility and Implementation Study, which recommended the following transit routes:
- Alcona to Barrie South GO (through Sandy Cove) within 5 years,
- Cookstown to Alliston (5-10 years); and
- Cookstown to Innisfil Heights and into Barrie (within 5-10 years). “
Future GO Station Hub
The report recommends removing Official Plan reference to a GO Station location until one is decided. “Policies could be further enhanced to address the development of a future station area as a transit-supportive hub. The transit hub could be connected to the broader Innisfil community via active transportation and future transit connections.” It suggests “long-term development of a mixed-use node around the future GO Station” could be encouraged.
Agriculture-Related Uses & Scale
The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) provides guidelines for the type and scale of secondary agricultural-related uses of rural lands. The report outlines these options:
- Maintain the current permission for Agricultural Related Uses
- Provide a specific list of Permitted Agricultural Related Uses
- Maintain current criteria on Scale of Uses
- Provide criteria to maintain the Agricultural/Rural Character
- Limit the size of the Agricultural Related Use
Agricultural Related Uses could be permitted “as of right”; through a rezoning; or by site plan approval process. The report seeks to find a balance of simplicity and flexibility for truly small operations with the opportunity for neighbouring owners to comment on any proposal through a permit process.
On-Farm Diversified Uses
“On-farm diversified uses are defined by the PPS as uses that are secondary to the principal agricultural use of the property, and are limited in area.” The Town can choose to allow a broad or limited range of On-farm Diversified uses as well as define an acceptable scale of operation.
Other Rural Lands
The report points out that, “the 2014 PPS includes additional permitted uses for Rural Areas, including “other rural land uses”. The PPS 2014 also permits “limited residential development” as well as “resource based recreational uses”, which includes recreational dwellings … If the Town does not define ‘other rural land uses’, it is likely they will get rezoning applications for a broad range of uses on the basis that it is proposed in the rural area and thereby is a rural land use. For that reason, an appropriate range of permitted uses must be clearly identified in the Town’s Official Plan.”
Non-Decisons; Special Rural Designation
“The Official Plan maps should be updated to remove all Non-Decisions and place all these properties within the Agricultural Area designation … With the annexation of lands to Barrie in 2010, [the Special Rural] designation is no longer required. As a result, the lands can now be designated either agricultural or rural based on the agricultural capability of those lands.”
- Hedgerow Protection
Hedgerows between farm properties … A policy could be added to the Official Plan that promotes and encourages the maintenance of hedgerows throughout the countryside
- Maintain Scenic Views
A policy could be added to the Official Plan to encourage the protection of scenic views and to require the siting of new buildings to maintain scenic views.
- Maintain Scenic Rural Streetscapes
There are many defining elements of the Town’s rural roads that contribute to the countryside character. These include attractive driveway entrance features, tree-lined roadways and fencing abutting the roads. Policies could be added to the Official Plan to encourage the retention of these elements and their replacement when trees die or roads are upgraded.
Natural Heritage Systems
“A natural heritage system (NHS) is the combination of all of the natural features in a given geographic area.” …
“Simcoe County has prepared a new NHS, in their updated Official Plan, but it is now under appeal. The Town’s Official Plan will need to conform to this NHS once it is approved by the OMB. The Town may, however, choose to go beyond the level of protection achieved by the County’s NHS.” …
“The Lake Simcoe and Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) has also prepared an NHS as described in the discussion paper. The LSRCA NHS identifies features outside of the County’s NHS that have different levels of significance, ranging from provincially significant features, to watershed significant features, to supporting features… The addition of these features would achieve a higher level of protection of the natural environment in Innisfil. The challenge will be in dealing with lands that may currently have development permissions that could be taken away or reduced as a result of the addition of the lands to the NHS.”
“…policies pertaining to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (LSPP) must be included in the updated Official Plan.” These include:
- Policies related to the provision of sewage treatment plants and restrictions for future plants
- Reduction of stormwater runoff through the encouragement of various source, on-site and end-of-pipe stormwater management measures
- Measures to reduce stormwater runoff prior to and during construction of new development
- Policies related to the protection of key natural heritage and key hydrologic features from development
- Restriction of development within 30 metres of Lake Simcoe within the shoreline built up areas and 100 metres within the rural area
- Policies applicable to development within settlement areas, where natural features could be impacted
Protecting Innisfil’s Urban Tree Canopy
“The Urban forest includes all the wooded areas within an urban area, including trees that are part of the Town’s larger NHS but also trees outside the NHS that are found along streets and in parks, residential lots, business parks, commercial lots, school grounds, golf courses and cemeteries.” Policy options include:
- Recognize and define urban forests in the Official Plan
- Introduce policies related to the protection of the urban forest
- Establish a benchmark and target for urban forests
The report makes recommendations regarding shoreline protection in conformity with the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan:
- Require a minimum 30-metre vegetation protection zone within “shoreline built-up areas”, and a minimum 100-metre vegetation protection zone outside of “shoreline built-up areas” and settlement areas.
- Require the submission of a natural heritage evaluation study for development applications within “shoreline built-up areas” and within 120 metres of Lake Simcoe, except for minor variance applications.
- Require all development applications outside of settlement areas and within 240 metres of Lake Simcoe to demonstrate that the proposed development will maintain and enhance connections between natural heritage features to protect for wildlife movement.
- Prohibit significant alteration of the Lake Simcoe shoreline, unless required for stabilizing, protecting or rehabilitating the shoreline.
- Restrict structures on Lake Simcoe, including boathouses.
The final section of the report discusses Growth Management and Intensification. So, as they say, I’ll be back …