The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is the ultimate body responsible for providing oversight of a municipality’s official plan process. The ministry’s Citizens’ Guide Official Plans states that, “an official plan describes your upper, lower or single tiered municipal council’s policies on how land in your community should be used. It is prepared with input from you and others in your community and helps to ensure that future planning and development will meet the specific needs of your community. An official plan deals mainly with issues such as : where new housing, industry, offices and shops will be located, what services like roads, water mains, sewers, parks and schools will be needed, when, and in what order, parts of your community will grow and any community improvement initiatives”.
Lambton Shores is a tier 1 municipality and therefore must have its official plan approved by the County of Lambton. Once an official plan is in effect, it guides all of the municipality’s planning decisions. The local council and municipal staff must adhere to the direction provided by the official plan, unless it is amended by council. Any new services, sewers or water mains must conform to the official plan and the applicable by-laws. It is the expectation of the province that municipalities will update the official plan every five years to ensure that the plan reflects any change to the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) or new provincial initiatives. The Provincial Policy Statement, under Section 3 of the Ontario Planning Act, outlines policy trends related to land use planning and development in respect of provincial objectives. It sets the policy foundation for regulating the development and use of land. The PPS states that an official plan “shall be consistent with” policy statements under the Ontario Planning Act. The PPS further sets out minimal standards, but allows municipalities to go beyond these standards if they so wish. In other words, while the Provincial Policy Statement could prefer a certain standard, a municipality could require a standard that goes beyond the minimum.
It is important to note some key concepts direct the official plan process such as: ‘council’s policies on how land in your community should be used’, ‘prepared with input from you’, and ‘future development and planning will meet the specific needs of your community’.
These key concepts were foundational in the development of the Association’s appeal of the Lambton Shores Official Plan to Lambton County. You can read our appeal to Lambton County under the ‘Speaking Up’ section of the website.
For further information on the province of Ontario’s official plan process follow the links below. Also included is a link to the 7th draft of the Lambton Shores Official plan which was submitted to Lambton County in December, 2015.
Approval of the Official Plan is still outstanding.