On August 17, 2016 members of the OWCLA board of directors met with David Cribbs (Lambton County Clerk/Solicitor), Jason Cole (General Manager, Infrastructure & Development) and David Posliff (Head of Planning) to discuss our concerns with Lambton Shores Official Plan proposal. The 7th draft of Lambton Shores Official Plan was adopted by its municipal council on November 24, 2015 and submitted to the County for its approval in December, 2015. Lambton Shores, under the Provincial/Municipal planning structure, is considered to be a Lower Tier municipality, while the County is designated an Upper Tier body. The Ontario Planning Act stipulates that the County, as an Upper Tier government, is the approval authority for Official Plans for Lambton Shores, a Lower Tier government. Our concerns can be categorized under four areas, each of which was supported by way of a factual evidence binder that was left with the County managers after the meeting:
- It appears that there is more than one version of the council adopted Draft 7 Official Plan. The version on the municipal website does not appear to match the one that the municipality submitted to the County for approval.
- The municipality did not comply with Section 16.1 or Section 17.15 (d) of the Planning Act which compels municipalities to ensure that “at least one public meeting is held for the purpose of giving the public an opportunity to make representations in respect of the current proposed plan”. In reviewing the document it is apparent that the municipality did not respect the spirit of the Smart Growth for Our Communities Act, Lambton Shores Procedural By-law 41-2014 or apply Section 227 (b) of the Municipal Act of Ontario.
- The production of this document demeaned the Official Plan process as depicted by the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ Citizen Guides for The Planning Act and Official Plans. There is no evidence in the document to suggest that critical information from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs’ Economic Development and Land Planning Tools guide was even considered.
- Official Plans must conform to the dictates of the Ontario Provincial Policy Statement which provides policy direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. In many instances the document is inconsistent with the Provincial Policy Statement. We found the document to be subjective, opinionated and rigid to the detriment of sensible development and private property use. Some sections of the document contain information that is outdated. Recent scientific irrefutable data in the area of wastewater management that does not support certain positions in this document is not included. Why?
We had a very substantive and productive meeting with these County managers. We were treated with professionalism, frankness and respect. We are asking that Lambton Shores’ Official Plan not be approved until it has been returned to the municipality where, with guidance and direction from the County, it can be transformed into a sensible land use planning tool that reflects the values and principles of our communities, is compliant with the provincially mandated Official Plan process and is respectful in its tone. We provided the County with examples of such Official Plans from six comparative Ontario municipalities. We’ve only just begun. Stay tuned!