Revised Official Plan will shape all land use decisions
The Plan is updated periodically, and is meant to guide planning for the next 20 years. While it must conform to provincial planning rules, there's considerable room for local decisions on how to best guide development in the city.
Residential and other types of construction, transportation policies, water protection, agricultural development and adapting to climate change are a few of the areas covered by Sudbury's Official Plan. The review began in 2011, and through a series of consultations and research, “considerable progress has been made to better understand these questions and frame appropriate land use planning policy improvements,” the report says.
“This process of understanding and policy formulation has featured extensive research, analysis and consultation with the community. In the last two years, 11 background studies have been completed, while another two are nearing completion.”
In broad terms, the review evaluates, for example, whether there is enough residential, agricultural and other types of land in the city to meet projected demand. It also re-enforces the intensification policy, where most development takes place in areas already serviced by municipal water, sewer, roads, etc.
That maximizes the use of existing services, while reducing demand for expanding infrastructure into new areas. The plan tries to balance the need for intensification, while respecting the existing character of residential neighbourhoods.
“New policies (will) guide future intensification in a manner that is consistent with and reinforces the existing and planned character of an area, while protecting the stability of established residential neighbourhoods.”
Limiting urban sprawl and encouraging more use of city transit is some of the ways to adapt to the effects of climate change, with an eye on getting more people to use public transportation rather than their cars.
The review also aims to make it easier for people to have small-scale farms that contribute to local food production – although there's no mention yet of allowing homeowners to raise a small number of chickens, an idea floated during the consultation process.
“(That) includes policies that permit community gardens, greenhouses and temporary fruit and vegetable stands,” the report said.
The revised Official Plan could also include policies to develop the city’s Heritage Register, which is a listing of properties that would be given a measure of protection if an owner wanted to make major changes to the building.
After Monday night's update, the next step in the process is coming up with a draft revision to the Official Plan. The draft would go to the province for review to ensure it conforms to the provincial Planning Act. After that process, it will come back to the planning committee before going to a final round of public consultations – including at least two public open houses and a public hearing.
The process should be complete by the first few months of 2015. The city's planning committee will get a detailed report tonight on revisions the Official Plan, the document that is the basis for all zoning and other land use decisions in Greater Sudbury.