OFFICIAL PLAN UPDATE - SEPTEMBER 2016
Midland Official Plan Review Update
Midland's Official Plan Review (OPR) process has celebrated its first birthday.
This first year has seen frequent opportunities for input from members of the public, Town Council and the OPR Steering Committee and has been summarized by our consultants on this project, ‘The Planning Partnership’. There hasn't been a monthly newsletter posted on the Town's web site since January, and the 52-page presentation delivered at the September 22 public meeting is also still absent, so please forgive any minor errors in this update. Members of MidlandCommunity.ca who attended on September 22 summarize the status as follows:
It seems clear that Provincial and County mandates leave the Town with very little flexibility in drawing up its official plan. All areas that haven't already been developed or had development plans approved by the Town are now off limits. Commercial and residential development is to be concentrated in the downtown/waterfront area. Residential development must be at a higher density and 10% of it must be "affordable". Downtown commercial areas are to retain the character of the town. Designated employment lands shall remain as such. So, the map of Midland will remain pretty much as it is beyond 2031.
Midland is also expected to increase the population by 5500 people and add over 1300 jobs in the next fifteen years. This is where we find our main bone of contention. Midland's 2002 Official Plan lists the population at 17,000, precisely the same as today, and "Future growth through the period of this Plan is expected to be healthy." We've all seen how much money was spent in anticipation of this growth. The provincial mandate could motivate Midland to set policies and build infrastructure to accommodate their growth forecast, but what if it doesn't materialize? It will be a delicate balancing act for current and future Councillors to be seen as adhering to the Official Plan without making unsustainable investments.
So, the consultants, steering committee and Council are doing their best to solicit public input and craft something good for Midland, but frankly, the province has pretty much set the table, cooked the dinner and assigned the place settings. All we can do is decide how much we'll eat and how quickly, so let's not order the meal until we can afford to pay for it. The best advice we can offer is to avoid over-reaching, keep things as simple and clear as possible, and keep the official plan at a high level, leaving the detail for future zoning decisions. Don't repeat or embed existing national, provincial or county policies because when they change we'll have to expend effort in "busy work" to update our own plan. Simply refer to binding legislation where necessary and leave it at that.
We encourage members of MidlandCommunity.ca to keep an eye on the Town's official plan review page at www.midland.ca/official-plan-review
, in case the most recent information gets posted.
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